Diana Tom was dancing with friends on Saturday night, ringing in the Lunar New Year at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, when all that joy was tragically cut short.
Tom, 70, was fatally injured when a gunman opened fire on her beloved dance studio, killing 11 and injuring nine in an attack that has crushed the local community – the heart of the region’s Chinese diaspora – and shook the nation .
Relatives on Tuesday identified Tom as the woman who later died in hospital from injuries from the shooting, bringing the death toll to 11. She died on Sunday.
“Diana was a hard-working mother, wife and grandmother who loved to dance,” the family wrote in a statement to The Times. “For those who knew her, she was someone who always went out of her way to give to others.”
All the deceased were identified on Tuesday. In addition to Tom, these are My Nhan, 65; Lillian Li, 63; Xiujuan Yu, 57; Hong Jian, 62; Muoi Ung, 67; Valentino Alvero, 68; Yu Kao, 72; Chia Yau, 76; Wen Yu, 64; and Ming Ma, 72. (Li’s name was initially misspelled by the coroner.)
Nine others were injured in the attack.
The gunman was identified by police as a 72-year-old man who investigators say had visited the dance studio, as well as a second dance hall in Alhambra, which he also attempted to attack on Saturday night, but was confronted and restrained by a man working the reception.
The following day, the suspect shot himself as police approached his van in a parking lot in Torrance, officials said.
“On behalf of Diana Tom, we, her family, condemn this senseless act of violence that has uprooted the lives of all victims, their families and the entire API community at large,” Tom’s family wrote in a statement. They asked for donations to a victim fund set up by the Southern California branch of Asian Americans Advancing Justice and several other organizations that support the Asian American Pacific Islander community.
“Diana would be happy to know that her legacy will continue with the GoFundMe supporting all the families of the victims of this tragedy,” the statement said. “We honor and support all those affected.”
Tom was one of four victims of the shooting who was being treated at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. Another survivor, a 73-year-old woman, was released on Monday. The other two remain in hospital, one in serious condition, the other recovering, This is according to a statement from officials on Monday. The condition of the others with injuries was not immediately clear.
Alvero was remembered by relatives as a “loving father, a devoted son and brother, a grandfather who loved his three cousins as his own children.”
“Please remember that Valentino is more than just a headline or a news story,” the family wrote in a statement. “He loved people and heard about their lives and in return shared his own stories with such enthusiasm and enthusiasm that you couldn’t help but listen and laugh with him.”
His family said he loved ballroom dancing, his community and was the “life of every party.”
“We hope he danced to his heart’s content until the very end and hope he’s dancing in heaven now,” they wrote.
Alvero was a Filipino American, according to the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles, and was a devout Catholic, his family said. They called it a “great mockery” that he did not receive his last rites, a sacrament administered before his death.
“Our family would like to request all priests and Catholics to pray for him by his name, Valentino Marcos Alvero,” the family wrote. “He was a faithful servant of God and we know he would want the world to lift up his family in prayer more than anything else.”
Like others in the Saturday night dance hall, Yu was celebrating the Lunar New Year when she was killed.
“After days of uncertainty, fear and anxious waiting, we received the news that my aunt was indeed one of those who died in the incident,” Yu’s niece, Kathleen Fong, wrote on a fundraising page set up for Yu.
Yu emigrated to the US from China in the early 2010s hoping to make a fresh start with her husband and three children, Fong wrote. Two of Yu’s children are studying sports medicine and exercise science at California State University.
“My aunt and uncle worked tirelessly to support their daughters’ livelihood and education, doing odd jobs and taking on labor-intensive occupations to make ends meet,” Fong wrote. “The family has just managed to get by with the support of both parents, but with one of them no longer in the picture and the high costs of unexpected funeral services awaiting them, we have felt it necessary to reach out to the community. for assistance.”
A fan of ballroom dancing and all things fashion, Nhan was known to lovers as Mymy, according to her niece, Fonda Quan. She recalls her aunt’s cheerfulness and eagerness to celebrate the victories of those in her wide circle of friends.
“It’s heartbreaking,” says Quan, 32, who grew up sharing a house with her aunt, as well as her parents and grandmother. “It was hard to process.”
Nhan grew up in Ho Chi Minh City and emigrated to Rosemead with her family in the 1980s.
“Unjustly, Saturday was her last dance party,” her family wrote in a statement. “We start the Lunar New Year broken.”
Maksym Kapitinchuk, one of Nhan’s longtime instructors, said her presence brought to life both the Star Ballroom Dance Studio and the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra, the two locations where the gunman was targeted on Saturday.
“Dance was her life,” he said, adding that she attended classes every night of the week and often brought friends along. “She was just the light of the class and the light of the studio.”
Another victim, Ma, was a constant presence with Star — a skilled social connector, friends said, who worked and danced in the studio.
Ma – affectionately known as Mr. Ma – had emigrated with his wife from China, where he was part of a well-known dance troupe, said David DuVal, a dance instructor.
“He loved what he did,” he said.
Lily Ko, who has been taking a class every Tuesday with Star for two years, remembers seeing Ma teach another class. He was really good, she remembered thinking.
Her Tuesday classes ended around 10 p.m., and Mom often waited for her so she didn’t have to walk to her car alone.
“He made sure I was safe,” she recalls.
The Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles confirmed that two of the victims were Taiwanese Americans. One of them was a Chinese citizen, according to the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles.
“Overnight we became reluctant members of a community grieving the loss of our loved one due to gun violence,” the Alvero family wrote in a statement. “We extend our condolences to the other victims and their families who endured this heartbreaking and life-changing tragedy.”