A circle of white candles brushed against the steps to Walnut High School Monday night as classmates of a slain Irvine basketball coach huddled together, sharing memories and tears.
Jaemy Oda made her best friend, Monica Quan, a poster with Michael Jordan outlined in the background — a mutual hero for basketball players who were close for more than two decades.
"She was like my big sister," the West Covina resident said as she stood wrapped in a blue blanket at the memorial.
About 40 friends and classmates met at the school's main entrance holding candles, as Irvine police continued to investigate the slaying of Quan and her fiance Keith Lawrence, whom a passerby discovered slumped over in Lawrence's white Kia Sunday night.
Authorities say results from autopsies on the two won't be ready until Wednesday. They were each shot dead, and authorities said they have tentatively ruled out robbery and murder-suicide.
The couple recently moved into the condominium complex adjacent to UC Irvine at 2100 Scholarship, according to police, which neighbors described as secure with cameras and key codes needed to enter the parking area. The top level where authorities discovered Lawrence and Quan's bodies was reserved for guests and residents who needed extra parking, residents said.
Lawrence worked at a campus officer at USC, while Quan coached women's basketball as an assistant at Cal State Fullerton. Lawrence was a standout basketball player from Moorpark High School, and Quan still held Walnut High's record for three-pointers. The two began dating about four years ago after meeting at Concordia University, where they both played basketball and earned their degrees, according to Quan's aunt Nicki Lew.
Lew described Quan as an energetic and caring person, who looked forward to planning her wedding next year.
"Monica is like the daughter we never had," Lew said.
She recalled receiving the news of Quan's engagement Jan. 26. The two played phone tag all day, although she instantly guessed the good news, blurting out, "You're getting married!" before Quan could even utter the words.
Lew said anytime she saw something red and black — Quan's favorite colors — or basketball-themed she would buy it for her niece. On Monday Lew spotted basketball-shaped chocolates she bought for Quan sitting on the dryer in her home.
"I went, 'Oh my gosh. I won't be able to give her these,'" she thought.
Oda said she most recently saw Quan and Lawrence after Christmas, and said they seemed happy.
"They were great," Oda said. "They were happy."
Police ask that anyone with information call a tip line established at (949) 724-7192.
— Los Angeles Times reporters Kate Mather and Nicole Santa Cruz contributed to this report.