Families remember those slain in Monterey Park mass shooting: 'Our biggest cheerleader,' the 'life of any party'

Authorities on Tuesday released the names of the 11 people killed in a mass shooting at a popular ballroom in Monterey Park, California.

The dead include six women and five men. The victims of the shooting ranged in age from late 50s to mid-70s.

The women who were fatally shot have been identified as Hong Jian, 62; Lilan Li, 63; My Nhan, 65; Diana Tom, 70; Muoi Ung, 67, and Xiujuan Yu, 57.

The men who were killed were Valentino Alvero, 68; Yu Kao, 72; Ming Ma, 72; Chia Yau, 76, and Wen Yu, 64.

The shooting happened Saturday night amid Lunar New Year festivities at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in the predominantly Asian American Southern California city of 60,000 people. At least nine others were wounded.

The suspect, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, was found dead Sunday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside the van he used to flee after a second shooting that a man thwarted, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said. Authorities were still searching for a motive Monday.

Here's what we know about the victims:

My Nhan, 65

This photo provided by niece Fonda Quan shows Mymy Nhan. Nhan, 65, and multiple other people were fatally shot when a gunman opened fire Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., leaving their survivors devastated.

My Nhan, whose family provided 顏美美 as a traditional Chinese spelling, was killed in the shooting, said Sarah Ardalani, spokesperson for the Los Angeles County medical examiner.

Nhan's family said the loss of "Mymy" was still "sinking in" Monday, according to a statement from Nhan's niece, Fonda Quan, which was shared online.

"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 said.

Nhan, 65, was a "loving aunt, sister, daughter and friend," the statement said. "If you knew her, you knew her warm smile and kindness was contagious," the statement said. "Mymy was our biggest cheerleader."

Family members said they "are starting the Lunar New Year broken."

MONTEREY PARK SHOOTING TIMELINE: How the deadly attack at a Monterey Park dance studio unfolded

Nhan was also a frequent student at the second studio targeted, Lai Lai Ballroom & Dance in Alhambra, California, according to Maksym Kapitanchuk, a dance instructor there.

Kapitanchuk said Nhan had been one of his students since he began teaching classes after he immigrated from Ukraine in 2009. Kapitanchuk said Nhan brought friends and new dancers to his group classes – sometimes upwards 20 new people – which helped him get his career started in the U.S. and create a "family" of students at Lai Lai.

"It's unfair, dance was her life – as soon as she finished work, she would drive to Lai Lai to take group classes or to take private classes," Kapitanchuk told USA TODAY on the phone Monday. "She would help out at so many different parties, and she would buy many, many tickets, and she would just give them out to her friends just so they can go enjoy it."

Nhan had been dancing for multiple decades with her dance partner and friend, Mike, who was injured in the shooting, according to Kapitanchuk.

Valentino Alvero, 68

Valentino Alvero, 68, was killed in the shooting, Ardalani said Monday.

Alvero's family said in a statement that he was "a loving father, a dedicated son, and brother, a grandfather who loved his three granddaughters fiercely, an uncle who loved his nieces and nephews like his own."

According to the statement, Alvero loved ballroom dancing and his community. He loved hearing other people's stories and would share his own stories with enthusiasm.

Alvero was also "the life of any party" and a devout Catholic, the statement said. His family asked people to pray for him by name: Marcos Valentino Alvero and to pray for the other victims.

“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, told Rolling Stone.

Ming Wei Ma, 72

The Los Angeles Times and CBS News identified Ming Wei Ma as another victim of the shooting. According to witnesses, Ma attempted to stop the gunman before he was killed.

"According to the chat, he was the first to rush the shooter," Eric Chen, a friend of Ma, told CBS News. "He was just caring, and other first, people first kind of person."

Ma, who helped manage the studio, was fondly known as Mr. Ma by friends and community members, the Los Angeles Times reported. David DuVal, an instructor at the studio, told the Times that Ma moved with his wife to the U.S. from China, where they had been part of a “semi-famous” dance group.

Veteran ballroom dancer Pashree Sripipat Silapee said Ma saw the dance studio as not only a business, but a community service. He would always take performer' photos without them having to ask, she said.

"He was such a good person," said Sripipat Silapee, 76, who for years has hosted fundraisers and rehearsals at Star. "I feel so, so bad we lost him." 

In a Facebook post, Lauren Woods, another instructor at the studio, said Ma was “the heart of Star Dance Studio” who had a “beautiful soul.”

Woods shared that she saw Ma for the last time on Saturday before the shooting when he helped her find parking on the packed Monterey Park streets amid Lunar New Year celebrations. Woods said she will always remember Ma and the way they communicated with each other.

“His English was not great, but he’d always say, ‘My teacher! My teacher!’ Always kiss my cheeks and say ‘Love You! Love you!’ Full of hugs and physically pick me up sometimes. It was always so loving when he would do this,” Woods said on Facebook.

Diana Tom, 70

Diana Tom, 70, was one of 11 victims of a mass shooting Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California. She had been attending a Lunar New Year celebration.

Diana Tom was a generous grandmother who like many other Star Ballroom Dance Studio patrons was celebrating the Lunar New Year with friends Saturday night.

“Diana was a hard-working mother, wife and grandmother who loved to dance," her family said in a statement to USA TODAY. “To those who knew here, she was someone who always went out of her way to give to others.”

After suffering gunshot wounds Saturday night, Tom was taken to LA County-USC Medical Center and passed away Sunday, her family said.

Her family said they condemn the “senseless act of violence” that took place in Monterey Park, adding victims' families can be supported through donations to a verified GoFundMe page. Donations can be made to a general victim’s fund or to personal victim pages.

Xiujuan Yu, 57

Xiujuan Yu was out celebrating the Lunar New Year with friends at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio when she fell victim to the mass shooting.

According to The Los Angeles Times, Yu's niece, Kathleen Fong, said on her aunt's funeral fund page on GoFundMe that Yu had immigrated to the U.S. in the early 2010s.  Yu and "her family have done their best to make a life for themselves here, leaving their past lives behind in China to craft a new future for their little family," Fong said.

Her family is asking the community to help raise funds for her funeral. Yu leaves behind three children and her husband.

According to Fong, Yu and her husband have worked odd jobs and took on labor-intensive occupations to help support their daughters.

"The family has just been able to get by with the support of both parents, but now with one of them no longer in the picture and the steep cost of unanticipated funeral services awaiting them, we have deemed it necessary to reach out to the community for assistance," Fong said.

MONTEREY PARK TRAGEDY UPDATES: Death toll rises to 11 as community grieves, struggles for answers following shooting

'SAVED MANY LIVES': Monterey Park gunman disarmed by 'brave man' at second California dance studio, sheriff says

Contributing: Alia Wong, USA TODAY; Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Monterey Park shooting victims identified: List of victims in Calif.