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Wen Tau Yu was studying to become a pharmacist before the Monterey Park shooting.

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U.S.|Wen Tau Yu was studying to become a pharmacist before the Monterey Park shooting.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/01/24/us/monterey-park-shooting-wen-tau-yu-lun-kao.html

Mr. Yu and Yu Lun Kao were killed on Saturday along with 9 other people at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in the California city.

Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, Calif., on Monday.Credit...Alisha Jucevic for The New York Times

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. — Two of the men who died at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, where 11 people were fatally shot on Saturday, were aspiring to new goals in their 60s and 70s.

Wen Tau Yu had recently begun going to school to become a pharmacist, his son, Szu Fa Yu, said in an interview.

"He was 64 years old and retired, but he was exploring his second career," Mr. Yu said on Tuesday. "I really admire him for that."

Mr. Yu remembered his father as someone who always strove to be his better self. "His books and notes are still lying around on the desk," less than a month into the pharmacy program, he said. "It's heartbreaking to see."

He immigrated to the United States from Taiwan, where he was a manager at an agricultural company, according to Mr. Yu. "He had always supported our family," he said, "We were very close. I learned a lot from him."

The Yu family had a Lunar New Year gathering before his father went out with his friends to celebrate the occasion and never returned.

"We found it bizarre that he never came back," Mr. Yu said. After hearing from his father's friends that he never made it to lunch the next day, his family reported to the police that he was missing.

Mr. Yu said that if his father had been a dancer, he had not been aware. His family was unsure whether he had been killed inside the dance studio or while passing by.

On Monday, the Yus found themselves trying to cope with the news of the patriarch's death. "I did not know what to do. I was in shock," Mr. Yu said. "When I first found out, I just could not believe it. Now, the sadness is growing."

Mr. Yu still finds himself waking up in the middle of the night. "I miss his nagging," he said.

Mr. Yu added that he had not broken the news to his father's mother, who is in her 90s and in poor health. "We are afraid that she won't be able to handle it."

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Mourners near the site where 11 people were shot and killed over the weekend in Monterey Park, Calif., on Monday.Credit...Mark Abramson for The New York Times

People close to Yu Lun Kao, who also went by Andy, knew he practiced long hours to perfect his dance moves, even outside the classes he attended, as a longtime member of the dance community in Monterey Park.

He was an optimistic person who worked in the construction business after he and his brother emigrated from Taiwan to California 20 years ago, his older brother, Alan Kao, said in an interview.

Alex Satrin, an instructor who teaches at Star and, said Andy Kao had been a student in his group classes and often practiced alone, as well.

"All day long, that's how much he loved dancing," Mr. Satrin said.

On Saturday, when Mr. Kao saw the news reports of the shooting, he frantically tried to call his brother. But his brother's phone rang and rang without an answer.

"Why is it him?" Mr. Kao said on Tuesday. "Why does it have to be my brother?"

Mr. Kao said he had never imagined his family would be a victim of gun violence and that he hoped the tragedy would lead to gun control measures.

"This Lunar New Year has been so surprising and devastating for us," he said. "I think time will heal us."

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