Monterey Park Lunar New Year Shooting Hero Brandon Tsay Speaks Out On How He Disarmed The Mass Shooter

“When I got the courage, I lunged at him…”

Content Warning

This article includes descriptions of graphic content, suicide or self harm, and violence that may disturb some readers.

While Lunar New Year is a time for celebration for Asians, unfortunately, a mass shooting occurred in Monterey Park on the holiday.

| AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

On January 21, PDT, a mass shooting occurred at a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California. According to authorities, the suspected gunman, later identified by authorities as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, entered the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, a predominantly Asian suburb of Los Angeles, around 10:22 PM PST, shooting, killing 11 men and women and injuring others.

What should have been a festive night to welcome the first day of the Lunar New Year turned into a tragedy. Our heart goes out to all the victims, survivors, and their families. In this time of healing, we hope that all those who were affected have the space to grieve and process what transpired within the last 24 hours. In the meantime, all classes will be canceled and studio will be closed until further notice.

— Star Ballroom Dance Studio

| AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Less than 20 minutes after the shooting, the same suspected gunman went to a second dance studio, located less than three miles away, Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra, California.

In observance of the tragedy at Star Dance last night, Lai Lai Ballroom will be closed today. Tea and night dances are suspended until further notice. Lai Lai will reopen Monday for lessons only. As an extra precaution, All students and teachers are subject to search prior to entering the studio. Our prayers go out to all the victims’ families.

— Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio

Brandon Tsay

Thanks to a hero civilian, some lives were saved there. Good samaritan Brandon Tsay who helps run the dance studio with his family told ABC NewsRobin Roberts how he disarmed the mass shooter in an interview on Monday on Good Morning America.

Tsay explained that they were hosting a social dance party. It was late in the evening, so most customers had already left. He was in the lobby when he heard the sound of the front door, followed by metal objects clinking together, causing him to turn around to see an Asian man he had never seen before holding a gun.

My first thoughts was, ‘I was gonna die here. This was it.’

— Brandon Tsay

He described the gunman. Tsay said it appeared that it was not a robbery but instead that the man was there simply looking to harm people. So, Tsay took action to prevent anyone else from getting hurt.

He didn’t seem like he was here for any money, he wasn’t here to rob us. When he was looking around the room, it seemed like he was looking for targets, people to harm. …This was when he started prepping the weapon and something came over me, I realized I needed to get the weapon away from him, I needed to take this weapon, and disarm him or else, everybody would have died.

— Brandon Tsay

Tsay and the man fought against each other over the gun. Eventually, Tsay obtained the weapon and shoved the gunman away.

When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both my hands, grabbed the weapon, and we had a struggle. We struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other. He was hitting me across the face, bashing the back of my head. I was trying to use my elbows to separate the gun away from him, creating some distance…

— Brandon Tsay

Tsay attempted to threaten the mass shooter until the man escaped from the dance studio, leaving to his van. After the gunman left, Tsay called the police while still holding the gun.

Finally, at one point, I was able to pull the gun away from him, shove him aside, create some distance, point the gun at him, intimidate him, shout at him, ‘Get the hell out of here! I’ll shoot! Get away! Go!’ And at this point, I thought he would run away, but he was just standing there contemplating whether to fight or to run away… I really thought I would have to shoot if he came at me. This is when he turned around and walked out the door…

— Brandon Tsay

Tsay also spoke about how he overcame fears to courageously disarm the mass shooter. He also delivered a heartfelt message to the victims.

A lot of people have been telling me how much courage I had to confront the situation like this, but … courage is not the absence of fear but rather ability to have adversity to fear when fearful events happen such as this and in crises like this, the people need courage, especially the victims, their friends, their families… My heart goes out to everybody involved, especially the people in Star Dance Studio and Monterey Park. I hope they could find the courage and the strength to persevere.

— Brandon Tsay

Authorities recently announced that the suspect died by suicide following a stand-off with police. Read more below.

Alleged Monterey Park Lunar New Year Mass Shooter Dies By Suicide After Standoff

Source: GMA (1) and (2)

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