Son mourns California dance studio shooting victim

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 10:21 AM CST
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(CNN) - California is now reeling from three mass shootings in just three days. Most recently, in the small northern California city of Half Moon Bay, a gunman killed at least seven people at a mushroom farm and trucking facility.

To the south, in Monterey Park, victims’ families are still in shock after Saturday night’s shooting.

In the chilled glow of candlelight, the Monterey Park community gathered to honor the 11 lives taken and nine still recovering.

With flowers, balloons and tributes, a community vigil following a mass shooting has become routine, except when it’s your loved one they’re gathering for.

“The one that we have, I just want to see if this one is OK?” said Val Anthony Alvero, helping choose the photo that best depicts his dad.

“Yeah, that’s a good picture,” he said. “I think it represents his attitude towards everything.”

Always upbeat and caring for others: That’s how Val Anthony Alvero sums up his dad and namesake, Valentino Alvero or Val.

He said the 68-year-old hospitality worker hoped to retire in a year or so and planned to return to his native Philippines.

In his free time, he’d be at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, moving to the music.

“Oh yeah! He danced around the house and would sing. He loved that kind of stuff,” the younger Alvero said.

Video from last year posted on social media shows one of the many joy-filled gatherings at the dance studio.

On Saturday night as the elder Alvero and dozens of others celebrated the Lunar New Year, gunfire cut the music short and destroyed so many lives.

Val Anthony Alvero said he heard about the shooting Sunday morning.

When asked if he thought maybe somebody I know is involved, he said, “No, definitely not. … As I read the article and heard it was a dance studio, it crossed my mind. … Because he’s not the type of person to run away from danger if other people are in danger. Once I knew he was there, it was very likely he was either injured or unfortunately one of those who passed away.”

Valentino Alvero was among the dead at the studio, along with 10 others.

Mymy Nhan’s family wrote in a statement that “Saturday was her last dance,” adding that “if you knew her, you knew her warm smile was contagious. She was a loving aunt, sister, daughter and friend.”

Her dance teacher, Maksym Kapitanchuk, said, “Well, the first that comes to my mind, it’s her smile. She would always smile. I don’t even think I’ve ever seen her without her smile. Even through the mask, I can see her eyes smiling.”

While Val Anthony Alvero said he wants to know more about his father’s last moments, he said anger hasn’t really surfaced.

“I don’t think it adds anything to be angry in this situation,” he said. “What happened, happened. You can’t change it. I’d just like for better to come out of it, right? I think the biggest thing I’d want other people to take away, and I think regardless of this situation is always so important is just to cherish the time you have with other people.”