By Fred J. Robledo, staff writer
Friends, alumni and faculty held a candlelight vigil at Walnut High School on Monday night for Monica Quan, 28, a member of the school’s Hall of Fame who was shot to death along with her fiance Sunday night.
Quan, an assistant women’s basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton, and Keith Lawrence, 27, were found in his car on the top floor of a parking structure at an upscale condominium complex in Irvine where they lived.
Quan was found in the front passenger seat and Lawrence was in the driver seat, Irvine police Lt. Julia Engen said. Officers found the couple’s bodies after someone reported seeing Lawrence slumped over the steering wheel.
“Detectives do not suspect murder-suicide or robbery. Right now, there is no suspect information,” Engen said.
A crowd carrying lit candles gathered at the steps of Walnut High School on Monday. Tall votive candles, bouquets and a balloon were placed next to a poster board featuring photos of Quan and a pal.
Ronald Hill was among Quan’s friends who showed up for the vigil.
“She was definitely loved,” Hill said. “She was an amazing person. I would never think this would happen to her. She wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
A friend called Hill about 6 a.m. and said something happened
to Quan. He didn’t find anything on Google, then went on Lawrence’s Facebook profile and saw condolence messages.
Renee Pinon said she’s known Quan since they were children. She found out about the vigil from Facebook and decided to attend.
“To honor who she was. She was a wonderful person. It’s the least I can do. To be here,” Pinon said.
Dave Montoya, who graduated from Walnut High, organized the vigil. He called the principal, who gave permission for the gathering.
He explained why many showed up.
“She was very well-loved,” Montoya said.
Family friend Rich Kitagawa said he’s known Quan since she was 11 or 12. He said he coached against her in junior high. At one point, he said she tried to get him be a coach at the high school.
He described Quan as a great kid.
“(She was) always smiling, always positive, always trying to make someone’s day better. I think that’s why people are here,” Kitagawa said.
He found out about her death from the news.
“It’s so tragic. It’s so senseless,” Kitagawa said.
Mike James was Quan’s basketball coach for two years at Walnut High. He followed Quan’s career after she graduated and maintained a relationship with his former player.
“It’s devastating news,” said James, now coach at Diamond Ranch High School. “I had to take a step back and gather myself. I hadn’t talked with her in a couple months and she just got engaged.
“She was a young coach and her future was in coaching and it was was going to be bright. Her goal was to be a college coach and she was one of the brightest and smartest kids in the world. She had everything going for. It’s unthinkable what happened.”
Quan, the daughter of Sylvia and Randal Quan, was a four-year varsity basketball standout at Walnut, earning All CIF-Southern Section, All-Baseline League and all-area honors during her four-year career.
Quan set school records for most three-pointers during a season (59) and game (7), and averaging 15 points, six assists and three steals her senior year.
Quan graduated from Walnut High in 2002 and earned a basketball scholarship to Cal State Long Beach. She played in 27 games as a freshman in the 2002-03 season and averaged 2.6 points per game.
Long Beach women’s head coach Jody Wynn said the young coach was a dedicated and driven athlete.
“She played very hard and she was a great shooter, she had a great passion for life and she was always very happy and optimistic,” Wynn said. “She brought a lot of passion to the court.”
Quan transferred to Concordia University in Irvine in 2005 and graduated in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport science. She completed her master’s degree there in 2009. Lawrence and Quan both played basketball at Concordia.
Quan coached briefly at Diamond Bar High School, according to Dean Conklin, superintendent of Walnut Valley Unified School District. She was in her second season as an assistant women’s basketball coach at Cal State Fullerton.
“The loss of any member of the Titan family causes our community great grief, but the loss of one of our own under these circumstances is indeed tragic and heart-wrenching,” Cal State Fullerton President Mildred Garcia said in a statement. “We hope that Monica’s family and friends will feel and be comforted by our support during this difficult time.”
Walnut High School Principal Jeff Jordan remembered Quan for her “bubbly personality and for her competitiveness on the basketball court,” Conklin said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.”
Walnut athletic director Jerry Person said he was floored when he heard about her death.
“I couldn’t believe it. I’m still in shock,” Person said. “She was very tenacious. She had real good skills on the basketball court and off the court she was just a great young lady. You could tell she was going to be something special. It’s horrible what happened.”
Staff Writers Steve Scauzillo, Ruby Gonzales, Kelly Puente and The Associated Press contributed to this story.