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Victims of Monterey Park shooting included beloved dance studio manager, longtime regulars

The victims of Saturday’s mass shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio included a beloved manager and many longtime regulars who were excited to ring in the Lunar New Year at the popular dance hall.

Eleven people were killed and nine others were injured in the massacre in Monterey Park, California, authorities said, making it one of the state’s deadliest mass shootings in modern history. The dead were in their 50s, 60s and 70s, according to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

The coroner’s office released a full list of the victims Tuesday. Among those confirmed dead was Ming Wei Ma, 72, “an always wonderful” dance instructor who played a role in running the studio, said Daniel Buhala, a co-owner of Dance Around the Clock studio in nearby Monrovia. Buhala met Ma about five years ago.

“When people came, he was always welcoming. ‘You want a coffee? You want this, you want that?’ He was always taking care of people,” Buhala said in an interview.

Buhala said Star Ballroom has a “huge dance floor” and frequently hosts parties and other social events. On Saturday, the dance studio in the majority-Asian community was packed with revelers.

Jeff Liu had been dancing at the ballroom with his wife, Hong Jian, who used Nancy as her English name. He heard loud shots, which for a few seconds he assumed were fireworks for the new year celebration.

Then he saw Nancy, fatally wounded, fall to the ground, he said.

“I’m calling my wife, ‘Look, look, wake up, wake up!'” said Liu, who sustained a shoulder injury from the gunshots.

People gather at a candlelight vigil Monday for victims of the mass shooting at a ballroom dance studio in Monterey Park, Calif.Mario Tama / Getty Images

Nancy was 62 and loved volleyball, dancing, singing and music. The couple had been going to the dance studio for about a decade, Liu said. They have a daughter and were married for nearly 40 years.

In addition to Ma and Liu’s wife, the coroner’s office identified the victims as:

  • My Nhan, 65
  • Lilian Li, 63
  • Xiujuan Yu, 57
  • Muoi Ung, 67
  • Yu Kao, 72
  • Chia Yau, 76
  • Valentino Alvero, 68
  • Wen Yu, 64
  • Diana Tom, 70

Nhan’s family said on Twitter that she had been going to the studio for years. 

“It’s still sinking in what happened to Mymy,” they said, adding: “If you knew her, you knew her warm smile and kindness were contagious. She was a loving aunt, sister, daughter and friend. Mymy was our biggest cheerleader.”

The Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles said in a statement that Alvero was a U.S. citizen of Filipino descent and offered assistance to Alveros’ family “in whatever possible way.”

Eric Chen, a pastor and educator who lives in San Gabriel, said the massacre was particularly shocking because the dance studio had always been a place where everyone felt comfortable. He had known Ma, the dance instructor, since December 2021.

“He always showed a lot of respect to everybody,” Chen said. “He was very kind.” 

Kate Martin, Angela Yang, Kimmy Yam, Sakshi Venkatraman and Emma Sánchez contributed.

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