The shooting victims at the ballroom planned a night of fun and dancing
Those killed by a gunman who opened fire on a dance hall in the Los Angeles area are remembered by friends and family for the zest for life that brought them out that night to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
Eleven people were killed when a gunman opened fire Jan. 21 at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, a Monterey Park dance hall popular with older Asian Americans.
“It’s always so happy, people come and have fun, they just love to dance,” Peter Fung, a singer who has performed there and stops often to sing karaoke as well, told The Associated Press Thursday.In the aftermath of the attack, the gunman went to another nearby dance hall but was disarmed before anyone was shot. He escaped – and on January 22nd he shot and killed himself.
In the days following the shooting, a makeshift memorial with flowers and pictures grew in front of Starr Hall. And as of Monday, the GoFundMe organized by Asian Americans for Justice in Southern California is close to $1 million for the families of the victims.
The following are profiles of the 11 dead:
Her daughter wrote at the fundraiser that Leilan Lee, 63, who went to the Star Ballroom to celebrate the Lunar New Year with friends, was a “pillar of strength and optimism.”
“Stolen is the grandmother whose granddaughter slept many nights in her loving arms!” Min Yi’s daughter wrote on GoFundMe. “Taking her away from us is an opportunity for her grandson to feel her love and warmth forever!”
A lot of Lee’s family and close friends live in China, the post on GoFundMe, which was organized by her nephew, Hau Hua Tan, said, and the family hopes to raise money to not only help with funeral costs but also to bring them to California. for the funeral.
Diana Tom, 70, was a “hard-working 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.
Her family said, “To those who knew her, she was someone who always went out of her way to give to others.”
Voong recalled that Tom was “very friendly and outgoing”, and said that in addition to her passion for dancing, she also frequently performs karaoke at the venue.
Tom’s family said that after she was injured at the Star Ballroom, she was taken to hospital in critical condition. She died on January 22.
Xujuan Yu, 57, was a married mother of three who “worked tirelessly” to support her family, her niece Kathleen Fong wrote in a fundraiser for funeral costs.
Yu immigrated about a decade ago from China to the United States, where, Fung He and her family writes, “they did their best to make a living for themselves” by “working odd jobs and undertaking labor-intensive occupations to make ends meet”. ”
Fong wrote on GoFundMe that Yu and her husband were financially supporting their twins’ undergraduate education at the Universities of California, where they are studying sports medicine and kinesiology.
Now Fung writes that her aunt would “never be able to witness what she’s been dreaming of for all these years”.
Yu, who celebrated her birthday in December, was in the ballroom the night of the shooting to celebrate the Lunar New Year with friends, but she never went home.
Fung said that after “days of uncertainty, anxiety and anxious waiting”, Yu was identified as one of 11 victims.
Yu’s niece wrote: “On a personal level, it still isn’t real.” “It happened very quickly.”
Fung did not immediately respond to interview requests from The Associated Press.
Ming Wei Ma, 72, was the director of the Star Ballroom and a talented dancer himself. Those who knew him described him as always smiling, helping people and making them feel welcome.
“He was a real, special person who was loved by everyone,” Walter Calderon, a dance instructor who has held events there, told the Associated Press.
Calderón said that although Ma didn’t speak much English, he conveyed a lot with his facial expressions.
Siu Fung told the AP that she would sometimes lead karaoke outings for the seniors there, as she would always say hello to everyone. “He would go to my session and talk to the singers and greet them.”
Mymy Nhan, 65, was a regular at Star Ballroom. Fonda Kwan, her niece, said she was the primary caretaker for her mother, who had recently passed away, and was looking forward to the Lunar New Year celebrations at the ballroom as a way to “start the new year off”.
She continued, “It’s such a relief to know that she enjoyed her last dance, even though it was her last.”
Tiffany Liu, a reporter at WFAA-TV in Dallas, wrote for the station’s website that for Nhan, her aunt-in-law, “her family was her passion.” Liu said that Nhan had no children but that she “loved her nieces and nephews as much as her own children”.
“She was kind to all the strangers. Her warm smile was contagious. She was the biggest cheerleader of all,” Liu wrote.
Liu writes that Nhan, who was of Chinese descent, grew up in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States in 1985.
Valentino Alvero, 68, was remembered as a devoted family man who loved to dance and was “the life of any party,” his family said in a statement.
Alviro was “a loving father, a devoted son and brother, a grandfather who dearly loved his three granddaughters, and an uncle who loved his nephews and nephews like his own,” his family said in a statement.
The family said, “He loved people and heard about their lives, and in return, he shared his stories with such enthusiasm that you couldn’t help but listen to him and laugh with him.”
Alvero, a devout Catholic, loves ballroom dancing, the statement said.
The family said, “We hope he dances to his heart’s content until the end and we hope he dances now in heaven.”
Wen Tao Yu
Wen Tao Yu, 64, was 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 a second career,” Zhou Fa Yu told The New York Times. “I really like him for that.”
Wen Tao Yu immigrated to the United States from Taiwan, where he was a manager in an agricultural company, said his son.
On January 21, the family gathers to celebrate the Lunar New Year before his father goes out to celebrate with his friends. When his father’s friends said he didn’t go to lunch the next day, the family reported him missing to the police.
Szu Fa Yu said that if his father was a dancer, he didn’t know about it.
Yu Lon Kau
Yu Lun Kau, 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 he loved to dance,” Alex Satrin, a coach who teaches at the Star Ball Room, told the New York Times.
Satrin said Kao, who also went with Andy, had taken group classes and also frequently practiced on his own.
Cao’s brother, Alan Cao, told the newspaper that his brother worked in construction after coming to California from Taiwan two decades ago.
MUOI DAI UNG
Mui Dai Aung, 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 dancing, her family said.
Her niece, Julie Vaughn, told The Washington Post that her aunt came to the United States hoping to build a life here “different from the sorrows she’s been through.”
On January 21, Ong, who worked multiple jobs, including sewing, went to the Star Ballroom to celebrate the Lunar New Year with her best friend.
A statement from the Ong family called it “complex, messy, easy to love and sometimes hard to understand from the outside.”
This month, Ong’s daughter was visiting from abroad. “She came to see her mother, and now she has to bury her,” said Vaughn.
Their daughter, Hong Yingjian, 62, who was known as Nancy Liu, and her husband, Jeff, said they were regulars at the Star Ballroom.
“They know everybody,” Juno Blaze told the New York Times.
Bliss said the couple immigrated from China more than 25 years ago and have done everything together. They loved mingling on the dance floor because the clients were about their age, many of whom were also Asian immigrants.
One of the neighbours, Serena Liu, described Nancy Liu as “a very sweet, sweet, sweet person” who loved to sing, play the piano, and go out dancing.
“She used to say she could make friends with anyone if she wanted to,” Liu told the Los Angeles Times.
On the night of January 21, Jeff Liu was near the entrance when he witnessed the gunman break in and shoot. Bliss said he saw his wife break down.
They separated and he never saw her again.
Jeff Liu’s shoulder was hit by two bullets. He was released from hospital on January 22.
His family said in a statement that Xia Ling Yao, 76, had a passion for music, dance and travel.
Yao’s family said he was a caring father, uncle, brother and friend who was a happy and fun-loving person. He was the type of friend who was generous with his time, his family said, and to his children he “was generous with words of love and affirmation.”
Stengle contributed to this report from Dallas and Yamata contributed from Las Vegas. Reporters Terry Tang and Amy Thaksin in Monterey Park, California, also contributed to this report. journalist Christopher Weber in Los Angeles; and researchers Jennifer Farrar and Rhonda Schaffner in New York.
Jimmy Stengel, Rio Yamat, and Deepa Bharat