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Santa Ana nightclub beating victim was recent college grad and writer

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As police in Santa Ana continued their hunt for four suspects in the beating of a 23-year-old woman, friends and family gathered at the victim’s hospital bedside where she remains on life support.

Kim Pham was hit and stomped as she waited outside the Crosby in downtown Santa Ana early Saturday, an altercation that was captured on video. Police said she was unconscious by the time they arrived.

A recent Chapman University graduate, Pham was with a group of friends standing in line to get into the trendy nightspot when they got into an argument with another group. Police said Pham was hit and stomped by her attackers.

KIM PHAM: 2011 interview

On Monday, police said they arrested a Santa Ana woman on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon causing great bodily harm and are looking for two other women and two men in connection with the violence.

In a Facebook post, Pham’s sister said that the young woman was being kept on life support “because her wishes had always been to help others by being an organ donor.”

Pham’s uncle, who was drawn to a makeshift memorial outside the Santa Ana nightspot late Monday, said “she had so much to give back, so much to experience, and it was cut short.”

Erik Doan, the uncle, said Pham earned a psychology degree from Chapman last year. An online profile shows she worked at a printing facility, was active in breast cancer awareness and was a writer.

An essay she wrote, “Men Don’t Talk About Their Feelings,” was included in a 2011 anthology, “Pho for Life: A Melting Pot of Thoughts.”

In a video from the book’s launch, Pham said the essay was about “finding love from a tough place” and the affection of her own family. “My story is especially about my family,” she said.

The violent clash outside the Crosby was captured on an eight-second video that shows a group of people in a scrum next to a utility box near 4th Street and Broadway. As a security guard in a dark blue jacket approaches, at least one person is seen kicking at something on the ground.

Some of the bystanders can be seen pulling people away from the melee, while others watch or record the struggle on their cellphones.

"It breaks my heart that five people attacked one young woman and that certain people watched and didn't try to stop it," said Councilwoman Michele Martinez, whose district includes downtown Santa Ana. "I'm in utter shock."

Martinez said she plans on reviving discussions about posting surveillance cameras in the downtown area.

The topic came before the city in 2010 after a man was shot in a nearby parking garage during a robbery, Martinez said, but was dropped because of a lack of funding.

Saturday's beating is the most violent incident in the historic district since that shooting, she said. Crime in Santa Ana has declined in recent years.

"We don't want people to think it's not a safe place to visit," Martinez said.

Larry Trinh was among those who stopped at the memorial Monday evening. He described Pham as a friend and said she was an affectionate and caring person.

"It's a depressing sight," Trinh said, looking at the memorial. "I'm really going to miss talking to her. She could always make me laugh."

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Adolfo.flores@latimes.com

Times staff writer Steve Marble contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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