A passion for dance drew many of those killed to a ballroom

A passion for dance drew many of those killed to a ballroom

Among the 11 people killed when a gunman opened fire during a Lunar New Year celebration at a dance hall in an area of ​​Los Angeles popular with older Asian Americans was the family’s lovely aunt, a retired man who return to school and the smile of the centre. manager.

For many, they were drawn to the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park on Saturday night with a passion for dance and a desire to gather with friends to celebrate joy.

“I recognize the faces of these people who have created friendships, connections and community around their passion – dancing,” said Kristina Hayes, who organized tango events in the dance hall. “I’m still in shock.”

After the attack, the gunman went to another nearby ballroom but was disarmed before anyone was shot. He fled – and on Sunday shot and killed himself.

As of Tuesday, a GoFundMe organized by Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California had raised over $700,000 for the families of the victims.

Below are profiles of some of the 11 people killed:


Ming Wei Ma, 72, was the manager of the Star Ballroom and a talented dancer himself. Those who know him described him as always smiling, helping out and welcoming people.

“He was a really special person who was loved by everyone,” Walter Calderon, a dance instructor who was there, told the Associated Press.

Calderon said that even though Ma didn’t speak much English, he communicated a lot with his face.

Siu Fong told the AP that she would sometimes lead karaoke tours for the elderly there, where Ma would always say hi. “He would come into my session, and he would talk to the singers and greet them.”


Mymy Nhan, 65, was a regular at Star Ballroom. She was the primary caregiver for her mother, who died recently, and looked forward to the dance hall’s Lunar New Year celebration as a way to “start the year fresh,” said her niece Fonda Quan.

“It’s comforting to know that she enjoyed her last dance, even though it was her last,” she continued.

Tiffany Liou, a reporter with Dallas television station WFAA, wrote for the station’s website that her passion for Nan, her husband’s aunt, “was her passion for her family.” Liou said Nhan had no children but “loved her nieces and nephews as her own.”

“She was kind to all strangers. His warm smile was contagious. She was everyone’s biggest cheerleader,” Liou wrote.

Nhan, who is of Chinese descent, was raised in Vietnam and immigrated to the US in 1985, Liou wrote.


Valentino Alvero, 68, was remembered as a devoted family man who loved ballroom dancing and was the “life of any party,” his family said in a statement.

Alvero was “a loving father, a devoted son and brother, a grandfather who deeply loved his three granddaughters, an uncle who loved his nieces and nephews as his own,” his family said in a statement.

“He loved people and when he heard about their lives and in return, he shared his own stories with such enthusiasm that you couldn’t help but listen and laugh with him,” the family said.

The statement said Alvero, a devout Catholic, loved ballroom dancing.

“We hope he danced to his heart’s content until the end and we hope he is now dancing in heaven,” the family said.


Wen Tau Yu, 64, retired, but recently returned to school to study to become a pharmacist, his son said.

“He was 64 years old and retired, but he was exploring his second career,” Szu Fa Yu told the New York Times. “I really respect him for that.”

Wen Tau Yu immigrated to the United States from Taiwan, where he was the manager of an agricultural company, his son said.

On Saturday, the family gathered to celebrate the Lunar New Year before his father went out to celebrate with friends. When his father’s friends said he didn’t make it to lunch the next day, the family reported him missing to the police.

Szu Fa Yu said he did not know his father was a dancer, and the family was not sure if he was killed inside the dance hall or while passing by.


Yu Lun Kao, 72, was a longtime member of the Monterey Park dance community, and was known to practice for hours.

“All day long, that’s how much I loved dancing,” Alex Satrin, an instructor who teaches at Star Ballroom, told the New York Times.

Satrin said Kao, who also went with Andy, participated in his group classes and often practiced with the group.

Kao’s brother, Alan Kao, told the newspaper that his brother worked in the construction business after coming to California from Taiwan two decades ago.


Muoi Dai Ung, 67, who came to the United States from Vietnam more than a decade ago to be with family members who fled the country in the 1970s and 1980s, was an extrovert who loved to dance, her family said. .

Her niece, Juily Phun, told the Washington Post that her aunt came to the U.S. hoping to build a life here “different from the sorrows she faced.”

On Saturday, Ung, who worked multiple jobs, including as an activist seamstress, went to the Star Ballroom to celebrate the Lunar New Year with her best friend.

A statement from Ung’s family described her as “complex, messy, easy to love and sometimes difficult to understand from the outside.”

This month, Ung’s daughter was visiting her from abroad. “She came to see her mother, and now she has to bury her,” said Phun.


Diana Tom, 70, was a “hardworking mother, wife and grandmother who loved to dance,” her family said in a statement provided to the Associated Press.

Her family said she went to the ballroom to celebrate the Lunar New Year by dancing with her friends.

“To those who knew her, she was someone who always went out of her way to give to others,” her family said.


Hongying Jian, 62, formerly known as Nancy Liu, and her husband Jeff were regulars at Star Ballroom, their daughter said.

“They know everybody,” Juno Blees told the New York Times.

The couple immigrated from China more than 25 years ago and did everything together, Blees said. They liked to socialize at the dance hall because the clientele was around their age, and there were also many Asian immigrants.

A neighbor, Serena Liu, described Nancy Liu as a “very nice, cute, kind person” who liked to sing, play the piano and go out dancing.

“She said she can make friends with anyone if she wants to,” Liu told the Los Angeles Times.

On Saturday night, Jeff Liu was near the entrance when he saw the gunman storm in and open fire. He saw his wife fall, Blees said.

They separated and he never saw her again.

Two bullets grazed Jeff Liu’s shoulder. He was released from the hospital on Sunday.


Chia Ling Yau, 76, had a passion for music, dance and travel, his family said in a statement, the Washington Post reported.

Yau’s family said he was a happy, loving father, uncle, brother and friend. His family said he was the kind of friend who was generous with his time, and to his children “he was generous with words of love and reassurance.”


Stengle contributed to this report from Dallas. Reporters Terry Tang and Amy Taxin in Monterey Park, Calif. and researchers Jennifer Farrar and Rhonda Shafner in New York also contributed to this report.

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