Five gang members have been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing three people and wounding nine others in what was one of the worst mass shootings in Long Beach history.

Jeremy Penh, David Long, Ryan Sim, Kaylin Thik, and Grant Johnson were convicted in November of three counts of murder and nine counts of attempted murder, and at their sentencing hearing Monday, a judge said they’d shown no remorse for their crimes.

“I don’t see that you feel the gravity of what you did, and for that, I’m speechless, I suppose,” said Long Beach Superior Court Judge Laura Laesecke, who called the killings a “cowardly” and “futile” act of violence carried out “for a gang that quite frankly, few people have ever heard of.”

Prosecutors said the defendants believed they were shooting at rival gang members when they ambushed guests attending a Halloween-themed birthday party in the backyard of a home in Long Beach’s Rose Park neighborhood on the night of Oct. 29, 2019.

But there were no rival gang members there, according to prosecutors. Instead, the gunmen sprayed bullets into the backyard, killing three partygoers — 35-year-old Melvin Williams II, 28-year-old Ricardo Torres, and 25-year-old Maurice Poe Jr.

Nicole Vasquez, one of the nine survivors wounded in the shooting, spoke directly to the defendants at Monday’s sentencing hearing. She described the pain she’s suffered since that night, saying she’d been afraid to go into her own backyard for over a year.

Vasquez said she’d prepared a speech, but when she saw the defendants casually smiling in court, she threw out her remarks and decided to speak what she felt.

“Y’all came out here smiling … I’m happy too,” she said. “I’m happy we’re going to get justice.”

Grant Johnson (left) and Ryan Sim sit in court on Jan. 29, 2024, as they are sentenced for killing three people and wounding nine others during a mass shooting at a party in 2019. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

She said she hoped the defendants would ask themselves if their actions were worth it as they spend their days inside a cell.

Marjorie Grundy, Williams’ aunt, read several letters from people who knew him before his murder. Each said he was a caring person with a beautiful singing voice. He was his family’s anchor, Grundy said.

“Who would’ve ever imagined he would’ve left the world in such a disastrous manner,” Grundy said. “Melvin is missed every day by his family.”

Grundy said she saw no remorse from any of the defendants. Instead, she said, each has continued to glorify their actions, some even getting new tattoos in jail to boast of their gang affiliation.

Grundy, reading a letter written by Williams’ sister, said that the defendants “deserved to be locked up in cages like the animals you are.”

A court translator read a letter from Torres’ family that said his mother continues to have “horrible nightmares” since her son’s death.

“I ask God and the judge for justice, that’s all I want,” the letter said.

Penh, who prosecutors portrayed as the ringleader of the killers, never turned around as the victims’ statements were read.

Jeremy Penh sits in court on Jan. 29, 2024, as he is sentenced for killing three people and wounding nine others during a mass shooting at a party in 2019. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova. Prosecutors say he was the “mastermind” behind the deadly shooting.

During a monthlong trial, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee cast Penh as the mastermind behind the shooting, telling jurors that Penh had a grudge against the party’s host, Daniel Chan, because Chan had slighted Penh’s gang in a video.

Penh, incorrectly believing rival gang members would be at the party, laid out the plan for the rest of his crew to ambush them, according to Hanisee.

In a caravan of three cars, the crew drove to the party, crept through an alleyway and began shooting into the backyard, Hanisee said.

The gang members were arrested the following year. While in custody, Penh, Long, Sim, and Thik were all taken into different holding cells where officers posed as inmates in an undercover operation aimed at gathering evidence, according to Hanisee.

Grant Johnson is taken back to a holding cell after he and four other gang members were sentenced Jan. 29, 2019, for killing three people and wounding nine at a party in 2019. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

In those recordings, prosecutors said, Penh makes a statement about “molding” the shooters, and Sim brags about how the shooting was like “the movies.” 

“I was like pow, pow, pow, pow,” he can be heard saying.

Another man accused of participating in the shooting, Joshua Sam, flipped on his co-conspirators, testifying against them and corroborating prosecutors’ version of the events.

By the end of the trial, jurors found each defendant guilty of all the charges against them and also found the allegations that they committed the crimes to further the activities of their gang and that Long, Sim, and Thik acted as the shooters to be true.

Ultimately, Laesecke sentenced each defendant to three life sentences without the possibility of parole for the murders. Long, Sim, and Thik, were sentenced to an additional 435 years to life in prison for the murders, attempted murders, and gun-related charges. Penh and Johnson, who each have prior strikes against them, were sentenced to 270 years to life in prison for the attempted murder conviction.

Laesecke acknowledged that given the age Long, Sim, and Thik were at the time of the shooting, they might have been eligible for a parole hearing in the future.

But she said their actions were “egregious” and that there was “no reason to be merciful.”

The defendants will also have to pay more than $100,000 in restitution to the victims and their families, Laesecke said.

Sam will be sentenced on Feb. 6.