Monica Quan's basketball teammate and friend, Julie Escalera, left, sits with Germita Haynie, center, and Stephanie Escalera as they pay their respects in front of candles and photos of the slain basketball coach.

Monica Quan's basketball teammate and friend, Julie Escalera, left, sits with Germita Haynie, center, and Stephanie Escalera as they pay their respects in front of candles and photos of the slain basketball coach. (Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times / February 5, 2013)

WALNUT -- About 40 people gathered Monday night on the steps of Walnut High School to remember Monica Quan, 28, a former star basketball player who was killed Sunday night alongside her fiance, Keith Lawrence, in Irvine.

Many hugged and cried or stood silent, holding candles in memory of the former Walnut High graduate who become an assistant coach at Cal State Fullerton.

Police on Monday night were searching for suspects in the slayings. Quan and Lawrence, 27, were found shot to death in their car in a parking garage at their new condominium complex.

Lawrence, a graduate of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Academy, joined USC’s Department of Public Safety in August. Authorities have tentatively ruled out the possibility of the crime being a murder-suicide or motivated by robbery.

At the memorial, one person brought a heart-shaped balloon and another brought a basketball collage, as well as a basketball from the Walnut school gym.

Julie Escalera played basketball with Quan from middle school through high school. Escalera remembered Quan, who graduated in 2002, as a focused and passionate person.

"It's no surprise she continued a career in coaching and mentoring," Escalera said. "She always seemed to be a leadership kind of girl."

Jaemy Oda made a collage with photos of herself and Quan throughout the years. She said the last time she saw the couple was after Christmas.

"They were great. They were happy,” she said, adding that she never saw the two fight.

Quan’s aunt, Nicki Lew, said the woman was “vivacious and energetic.”

“Monica is like the daughter we never had,” she said.

Lew loved to purchase items in red and black, which were Quan’s favorite colors. Quan and Lawrence were together four years and became engaged in late January, according to Lew. 

On Monday morning, Lew found basketball-shaped chocolates that she had bought for her niece.

"I went, 'Oh, my gosh. I won't be able to give her these,'" she said.