(CNN) California is now reeling from three mass shootings in just three days. Most recently, in the small Northern California town of Half Moon Bay, a gunman killed at least seven people at a mushroom farm and trucking facility.
To the south, in Monterey Park, the families of the victims are still reeling from the shooting Saturday night.
Under the cool glow of candlelight, the Monterey Park community came together to honor the 11 lives taken and the nine still recovering.
With flowers, balloons and tributes, a community vigil after a mass shooting has become routine, except when they come together for their loved one.
“The one we have, I just want to see if this one is okay.” said Val Anthony Alvero, helping to choose the photo that best represents his dad.
The 11 victims were between the ages of 50, 60 and 70. (KCAL, KCBS, Nhan and Quan Family, Kristina Hayes, Joann Chui, Alvero Family, RMG News)
“Yeah, that’s a good picture,” he said. “I think it represents her attitude towards everything.”
Always optimistic and concerned about others: this is how Val Anthony Alvero sums up his father and namesake, Valentino Alvero or Val.
He said the 68-year-old hotel industry worker expected to retire in about a year and planned to return to his native Philippines.
In her spare time, she would be at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, moving to the music.
“Oh yeah! He would dance around the house and sing. He loved that kind of thing,” young Alvero said.
Video from last year posted on social media shows one of the many joy-filled gatherings in the dance studio.
On Saturday night, as the elderly Alvero and dozens of others were celebrating Lunar New Year, gunshots cut out the music and destroyed so many lives.
Val Anthony Alvero said he found out about the shooting Sunday morning.
Asked if he thought maybe someone I know is involved, he said: “No, definitely not. … When I read the article and heard that it was a dance studio, he crossed my mind. …Because he’s not the type to run away from danger if other people are in danger. Once I knew he was there, it was very likely that he was either injured or sadly one of those who passed away.”
Valentino Alvero was among those killed in the studio, along with 10 others.
Mymy Nhan’s family wrote in a statement that “Saturday was her last dance”, adding that “if you met 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 thing that comes to mind is her smile. She would always smile. I don’t even think I’ve ever seen her without her smile. Even through her mask, I can see her eyes smiling.”
While Val Anthony Alvero said he wants to know more about his father’s final moments, he said the anger hasn’t really surfaced.
“I don’t think it adds anything to being angry in this situation,” he said. “What happened happened. You can’t change it. I wish he could come out of this better, right? I think the most important thing I’d like other people to take away, and I think regardless of this situation, it’s always so important to appreciate the time you spend with other people.”
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