Among the victims of Saturday’s mass shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio was a beloved manager and many longtime regulars who were excited to ring in the Lunar New Year at the popular dance hall.
Eleven people were killed and nine others wounded in the massacre in Monterey Park, California, authorities said, making it one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern history. The dead were in their 50s, 60s and 70s, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.
The coroner’s office released a full list of the victims on Tuesday. Among those pronounced dead was Ming Wei Ma, 72, an “always wonderful” dance instructor who played a role in running the studio, said Daniel Buhala, co-owner of Dance Around the Clock studio in nearby Monrovia. Buhala met Ma about five years ago.
“When people came, he was always welcoming. ‘Would you like coffee? You want this, you want that?’ He was always taking care of people,” Buhala said in an interview.
Buhala said Star Ballroom has a “huge dance floor” and often hosts parties and other social events. On Saturday, the dance studio in Asia’s largest community was packed with revelers.
Jeff Liu was dancing at the ballroom with his wife, Hong Jian, who used Nancy as her English name. He heard loud shots, which he assumed for a few seconds were fireworks for the new year’s celebration.
Then he saw Nancy, mortally wounded, fall to the ground, he said.
“I’m calling my wife, ‘Look, look, wake up, wake up!'” said Liu, who suffered a shoulder injury from the gunshots.
Nancy was 62 and loved volleyball, dancing, singing and music. The couple had been going to the dance studio for about a decade, Liu said. They have a daughter and were married for almost 40 years.
In addition to Ma’s wife and Liu, the coroner’s office identified the victims as:
- My Mum, 65
- Lilian Lee, 63
- Xiujuan Yu, 57
- Muoi Ung, 67
- Yu Cao, 72
- Chia Yau, 76
- Valentino Alvero, 68
- Wen Yu, 64
- Diana Tom, 70 years
Nhan’s family said on Twitter that she had been going to the studio for years.
“It’s still sinking in what happened to Mymy,” they said, adding: “If you knew her, you knew her warm smile and kindness was contagious. She was a loving aunt, sister, daughter and friend. Mymy was our biggest cheerleader.”
The Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles said in a statement that Alvero is a US citizen of Filipino descent and offered assistance to the Alveros family “in any way possible.”
Eric Chen, a pastor and educator who lives in San Gabriel, said the massacre at the dance studio was particularly shocking because it had always been a place where everyone felt comfortable. He had known Ma’s dance instructor since December 2021.
“He always showed a lot of respect for everyone,” Chen said. “He was very kind.”
Kate Martin, Angel Yang, Kimmy Yam, Sakshi Venkatraman and Emma Sanchez helped.