Death toll in Monterey Park shooting rises to 11

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The death toll from the Lunar New Year mass shooting in Monterey Park rose to 11 on Monday, after a person injured in the massacre died in hospital.

All victims were in their 50s, 60s or 70s, according to the Los Angeles County coroner.

Four were identified on Monday by authorities: My Nhan, 65; Lilan Li, 63; Xiujuan Yu, 57; and Valentino Alvero, 68.

Family and friends identified two other people as Ming Wei Ma, whose age was not immediately disclosed, and Nancy Liu, 63.

Nine other people were injured in Saturday night’s shooting inside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park – a city at the heart of the local Chinese community – just an hour after a Lunar New Year festival concluded nearby.

Soon after, the gunman entered a second dance studio, Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in the Alhambra, and was disarmed before fleeing.

The suspected gunman, Huu Can Tran, 72, was found on Sunday in a white van in Torrance, where he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said.

According to law enforcement sources, the investigation is focused on Tran’s interactions at the two dance studios and whether the motive was jealousy over a relationship.

On Monday, officials at the LAC+USC Medical Center announced that one of the four victims being treated had died.

“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we are saddened to report that one of the victims has succumbed to his serious injuries,” said Jorge Orozco, the hospital’s executive director. “We want to express our deepest condolences to their families and loved ones.”

The medical center said a 73-year-old woman who was wounded in the shooting was discharged on Monday. Two others were still in hospital, one of them in serious condition.

Authorities “remain hopeful for their recoveries,” Orozco said in a statement.

The condition of the other six injured was not known on Monday.

Fonda Quan on Monday remembered her aunt Nhan – who was known as Mymy – as charming, bubbly and someone who always saw the good in others.

My Nhan, 65, was one of the victims of the Monterey Park shooting.

(Tiffany Liou)

Nhan was leaving her usual dance class when she was killed. She decided to return home early to set up the family shrine to honor her ancestors on Lunar New Year’s Eve, but was met by the gunman as she was driving, Quan said.

The gunman approached the driver’s side of the car as Nhan and his dancing partner were leaving the studio, Quan said. Nhan was shot multiple times before the gunman entered the ballroom. His partner, who was in the passenger seat, was not shot, Quan said, and did not recognize the shooter.

After family members received a call from the coroner that Nhan had died, they went to the scene of the shooting.

“It’s harrowing to have this installed,” said Quan, 32, who lives with his aunt. “It has been difficult to process.”

Nhan was from Ho Chi Minh City and immigrated with her family to Rosemead in the 1980s. She loved ballroom dancing and fashion, Quan said.

“It’s very unfortunate,” Quan said. “Good things don’t always happen to good people.”

in a statement on twitter, Nhan’s family said she had been going to the Monterey Park dance studio on weekends for years.

“It’s what she loved to do,” the statement read. “But, unfairly, Saturday was her last dance.”

Nhan’s longtime instructor Maksym Kapitanchuk said she brought the dance studio to life.

“She would bring five, 10, 20 new people into each class,” Kapitanchuk said. “I really don’t know how I’m going to handle this now, teaching without her.”

Another dance teacher, Elena Krifuks of Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio, said she would rely on Nhan to publicize the showcases and other events.

“She had everyone’s phone numbers and was everyone’s friend,” Krifkus said.

Nhan’s family described her warm smile and infectious kindness.

“We are starting the Lunar New Year broken. We never imagined that her life would end so suddenly,” the statement reads.

Alvero also liked to dance at the Star, said a relative who declined to be identified.

The relative, who heard about the shooting on TV on Sunday morning, said people were trying to call Alvero but he wasn’t answering.

Alvero was married with two children in their 30s.

“He was a happy guy,” said the relative. “He wants to dance or sing.”

Ma’s friends identified him as a longtime Star employee and dancer.

Dariusz Michalski, an instructor, paused to collect himself as he spoke about his longtime student, who helped run the studio and was affectionately known as Mr. Bad.

“It was heartbreaking,” Michalski said. “We are speechless and cannot find the words to describe how we feel right now.”

David DuVal, another instructor, was hired by Ma nearly a decade ago.

“He loved what he did,” he said.

Ma moved with his wife from China to the United States, where they were part of a “semi-famous” dance troupe, according to DuVal.

Grace, a woman in her 50s, said Ma was DJing at the dance studio on Saturday night when the gunman entered. The song she was playing was “Light Rain in March,” she said. There were between 12 and 20 people dancing, Grace estimated.

“At the time, I got scared and hid under a table in the corner of the hallway, so I didn’t see much of anything,” she said.

In a Facebook post, Lauren Woods, another dance instructor, called out “Mr. Ma” the “heart” of the studio, writing that he “was everything at Star and we were always so connected with him”.

When Ma saw her, she wrote, he would say, “my teacher,” kiss her cheek, and say, “I love you! I love you!”

Lily Ko has been taking classes at Star every Tuesday for two years now. Ma was a familiar sight; she would see him teaching another class.

“He was an excellent dancer,” she said.

When Ma saw his group dance, he would tell them it was “very good, very excellent.”

Ko described him as “humorous and thoughtful” and said he would walk her to her car after class that evening.

“He made sure I was safe,” she recalled.

Qiang Bjornbak, an attorney for Rosemead, described Ma as a social connector whose death shocked the San Gabriel Valley Chinese community.

“He knows so many people,” Bjornbak said of her friend, describing how warm messages about him flooded Chinese WeChat groups.

Bjornbak met Ma through Chinese social events and took some dance lessons at the studio. He was immensely talented and kind, she said, and “super, super friendly.”

On twitter, Juno Blees said her mother died in the shooting. The New York Times identified her mother as Nancy Liu, 63.

“My mother is gone. She never made it out of the dance studio,” wrote Blees. “My family is devastated, especially my father.”

On Sunday, Blees tweeted that his father was injured in the shooting and that his mother was missing. Her father was later released from the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Still unidentified by authorities are two women, one in their 60s and the other in their 70s, and three men in their 60s or 70s.

Alyce Harley’s mother, Marlene Xu, has been attending Star Ballroom Dance Studio for seven years. It was a place for the 67 year old to celebrate holidays and see friends.

Xu was not at the Star on Saturday night, but many of those she knew were, her daughter said in an interview with The Times.

“Earlier this morning, she told me that one of her classmates in a Latino ballroom class, someone she shared snacks and stories with, is now dead,” Harley said. “She is really, really struggling.”

Star was a sanctuary for Xu, who immigrated from China and found a sense of belonging at the studio, Harley said.

“People like my mother and many other immigrants have been able to participate in something very Western without it feeling too foreign to them,” Harley said. “They could feel they could participate in the arts without feeling ‘different’ or left out. This is really important. That’s what Star Ballroom was.


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