A tight-knit Asian community’s Lunar New Year ended in tragedy Saturday when a mass shooter armed with a 9mm semiautomatic assault weapon stalked into a Southern California dance studio, opened fire, and callously claimed the lives of 11 people celebrating the holiday.
Among the dead were beloved aunt My Nhan, 65, Lilan Li, 63, Xiujuan Yu, 57, and 68-year-old dad Valentino Alvero, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner said Monday. The others who were killed were in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, the office said.
“My dad loved God, he loved people, and he loved to dance. I hope he’s dancing now, in that great gig in the sky,” Alvero’s daughter Kristenne Alvero tells Rolling Stone. She shared a photo of her dad the way she wanted him remembered, with a big smile.
My Nhan was identified as “Mymy” by an extended relative who posted about her family’s devastating loss on social media. “My husband’s family is hurting beyond measure,” Tiffany Liou, whose husband was a nephew of Nhan, wrote in a Twitter post. Liou, a reporter at WFAA in Dallas, wrote that she has covered many tragedies for her job, “and never imagined one would hit so close to home.”
She then shared a family statement that said Nhan loved dancing and was at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio Saturday night when the massacre unfolded.
“It’s still sinking what happened to Mymy. She spent so many years going to the dance studio in Monterey Park on weekends. It’s what she loved to do. But unfairly, Saturday was her last dance,” the statement reads.
“We are starting the Lunar New Year broken. We never imagined her life would end so suddenly,” it says. “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.”
A GoFundMe set up by Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California to benefit the victims of the tragedy had raised $194,000 of its $500,000 goal as of Monday evening.
Authorities said a gunman opened fire at approximately 10:22 p.m. local time Saturday at the ballroom dancing venue roughly seven miles east of downtown Los Angeles. The rampage followed a little more than an hour after the predominantly Chinese American suburb concluded the first day of its annual Luna New Year celebration, a massive event that draws about 100,000 people to the city of 60,000.
Authorities say gunman Huu Can Tran, 72, killed 10 people at the studio with an eleventh victim dying in a hospital on Monday. After mowing down victims with his MAC-10 assault weapon, Tran fled the scene and moved on to another dance hall, Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio, in neighboring Alhambra. Brandon Tsay, who runs the venue with his parents, said he wrestled the gun away from Tran, pointed it back at him and scared him off.
On Sunday night, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna confirmed that the man who died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside a white cargo van after a standoff with police was the shooter. Luna later hailed Tsay as a “hero” who saved “countless lives.”
Luna said Monday that authorities still did not have a confirmed motive for the deadly attack.
This is a developing story…