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Photo bombing dispute may have ignited Santa Ana nightclub beating

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The attack on a woman who was beaten into unconsciousness outside a popular Santa Ana nightspot may have been sparked when the 23-year-old accidentally walked in front of a camera as a group of nightclub patrons posed for a photo, a friend said Tuesday.

Kim Pham, of Huntington Beach, remains on life support after a group of five people punched and stomped on her early Saturday outside the Crosby in downtown Santa Ana.

In a statement, her family said they would take her off life support once her organs were donated.

KIM PHAM: 2011 interview

A friend, who declined to be identified because police are still investigating the case, said three women and two men got into a heated argument with Pham after she accidently walked into one of their photos. A cellphone, believed to belong to one of the suspects, was recovered from the scene, the friend said.

The suspects were described as being in their early 20s by Santa Ana police. An unidentified woman from Santa Ana was arrested Monday on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily harm.

On Tuesday, family and friends remembered Pham as a caring sister and creative writer who poured her heart into everything she did.

Pham’s father and stepmother only discovered that she was an organ donor after she was hospitalized, said her stepsister Lisa, who, like other family members, asked that their last name not be used for fear of reprisal.

“She would go out of her way to help others and never expect anything back from them," Lisa said. "That's the kind of person she is.”

Katie, a stepsister, said Pham taught her to accept people for who they were.

“Kim has the biggest heart I know and cares so much for everyone,” Katie said. “She is a rarity and one of a kind.”

The Chapman University graduate majored in psychology, but wanted to be a writer. She contributed essays to two anthologies that looked at the Asian-American experience, “Pho for Life: A Melting Pot of Thoughts” and “Miso for Life: A Melting Pot of Thoughts.”

“She was a beautiful person, not because she was a beautiful young lady, but because she had a heart of gold,” said Mai Bui, executive editor of the collections.

Her essay in “Miso for Life: A Melting Pot of Thoughts” focused on how her mother died of breast cancer when Pham was just 5, and she visits to her grave whenever she feels troubled.

“As I look around me, I trust in my heart that the people kneeling at graves recognize their loved ones’ fights and triumphs,” Pham wrote, in one of her essays.

“And I desperately hope that they take with them, as I always do, a sense of honor to have been in the presence of such strong souls.”

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Twitter: @AdolfoFlores3

adolfo.flores@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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