DALLAS — Early Sunday morning on Lunar New Year, my husband received a text message from his cousin, Fonda Quan.
“Youngest aunt may not be with us anymore,” she wrote in part.
Fonda described the limited information the family received from Mymy Nhan’s dance partner. At that hour, news was just starting to unfold about the mass shooting at Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California.
The whole family held on to a sliver of hope that Aunt Mymy may have been transported to a local hospital. Fonda and others started making calls to see if they had any patients matching her description. That search was cold.
As a reporter, I have covered many tragedies. I’ve had to call coroner’s offices before. I never imagined I would have to do it for my chosen family, let alone for a mass shooting. I immediately sent Aunt Mymy’s photos and description to the Los Angeles County Coroner Lieutenant. She was quick to respond. And at 11:48 a.m. Pacific time, she sent another email saying the coroner’s office was heading out to the scene.
It was a painful wait for my husband’s family. Fonda and her immediate family went to the Family Assistance Center on Sunday, hoping to find answers. After several hours, they were sent home with no updates.
Then around 8:00 p.m., nearly 22 hours after the mass shooting, a coroner’s investigator called back. I immediately patched in Fonda. It was the call that we anticipated and dreaded. The coroner confirmed Aunt Mymy was killed on Saturday night.
Fonda, my husband and their family want people to know who 65-year-old Aunty Mymy was. She was of Chinese decent and was raised in Vietnam. She immigrated to the United States in 1985.
She loved to dance. Going to Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park and Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra was a regular weekend routine.
Aunt Mymy was one-of-a-kind. Fonda said when sanitation workers came to collect the trash weekly, Aunt Mymy would run out to make sure they had a bottle of water. She was kind to all strangers. Her warm smile was contagious. She was everyone’s biggest cheerleader.
Her family was her passion. Aunt Mymy had no children, but she loved her nieces and nephews like her own. She treated Fonda like a daughter. They lived in the same house as Fonda grew up. She even continued to take care of Fonda’s toddler. Aunt Mymy left late for the dance studio on Saturday night to spend extra time with Fonda’s son.
Aunt Mymy was the primary caretaker for her mother, who passed away in late-December. Fonda had to bury her grandmother a few weeks ago, and now has to do the same for her loving aunt.
Aunt Mymy was the first victim shot before the shooter went on a rampage in the ballroom. We’re told she was leaving dance class, got in the car with her dance partner, and was pulling the car out when the shooter suddenly appeared, striking the vehicle multiple times. The family finds solace that she died almost immediately, taking her last breath in her dance partner’s arms, who was in the vehicle with her.
Remember her name, her face and her story. Bring the victims to the headlines. And spread kindness, the type of kindness Aunt Mymy had. That’s what this world needs.
It was her last dance on earth, but Aunt Mymy, we know you are dancing your way through heaven.
An online fundraising campaign was set up to help with funeral costs.