‘I lunged at him’: How 26-year-old disarmed Monterey Park shooter at Alhambra dance studio

ALHAMBRA — Festivities were about to wrap up at the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra late Saturday night when Brandon Tsay heard the front door open and saw a man with a gun walk inside — now identified by law enforcement as the person who had just fatally shot 10 people at a dance studio in nearby Monterey Park.

“My first thought was I was going to die here, this is it,” the 26-year-old Tsay told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday.

The Lai Lai studio was hosting a dance celebrating the Lunar New Year, and the night was nearing an end, so the sound of the front door opening caught his attention.

Tsay, whose family runs the studio, said the gunman, later identified as Huu Can Tran, 72, of Hemet, was “looking around the room” as if he was “looking for targets,” he told ABC.

“He started prepping the weapon and something came over me,” Tsay said. “I realized I needed to get the weapon away from him. I needed to take this weapon, disarm him or else everybody would have died.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has released surveillance images of the suspect in Saturday night’s mass shooting in Monterey Park, later identified as as Huu Can Tran, 72, of Hemet. He killed himself later in the day after pulling his van into a Torrance parking lot, where he was stopped by law enforcement. (Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department)

“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.”

Tsay said he used his elbows to try to dislodge the gun from the man’s hands, and eventually after a life-or-death struggle, he managed to grab the weapon and point it at the man. He said he yelled at the man to “get the hell out of here,” threatening to shoot.

“I thought he would run away, but he was just standing there contemplating whether to fight or to run,” Tsay said. “I really thought I would have to shoot him and he came at me. This is when he turned around and walked out the door, jogged back to his van. I immediately called police with the gun still in my hand.”

Tsay said he did not recognize the gunman. He was left shaken by the violent encounter.

“I was shaking all night. I couldn’t believe what happened,” he told ABC. “A lot of people have been telling me how much courage I had to confront a situation like this. But you know what courage is? Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to have adversity to fear when fearful events happen such as this.

“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 can find the courage and the strength to persevere.”

Related links

Victims killed in Monterey Park shooting were in their 50s to their 70s
Monterey Park looks for answers in aftermath of deadly mass shooting
Suspect in Monterey Park massacre may have had illegal semi-automatic handgun
Monterey Park mass shooting forces city into international spotlight
How to help people, families affected by Monterey Park mass shooting

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