The heroic bystander who took down the Monterey Park gunman after he murdered 10 people at a California dance hall has spoken out to describe how he took the 72-year-old down, saying his ‘primal instinct’ told him to attack.
Brandon Tsay was at the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra at 10.40pm last night when gunman Huu Can Tran burst through the doors armed with an illegal, semi-automatic pistol.
Tran had already killed 10 people at the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park. Police sources say he was ‘looking for his wife’. It remains unclear if she is among the victims.
Hero Brandon Tsay, 26, wrestled the gun out of Huu Can Tran’s hands after he showed up at the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra on Saturday night looking for more victims. Tran, shown in a hat and wearing all black, had just killed ten people at another studio
Tsay,. 26, told Good Morning America that he thought he was going to die when he saw Tran enter the ballroom with his gun. ‘Something came over me…I thought I have to get this gun away from him or else we’re all going to die,’ he said
Tran was looking for more victims when Tsay – whose family owns the Lai Lai Ballroom – confronted him, snatching his weapon from him after a struggle and scaring him away.
In an interview with GMA’s Robin Roberts in Monterey Park, Tsay described the moment he realized the shooter had come looking to kill.
Shooter Huu Can Tran killed himself on Sunday after going on the run
‘It was Chinese New Year’s, we were hosting a social dance party.
‘I was in the lobby and it was late into the evening. Most of our customers already left, I was looking into the dance ballroom.
‘This is when I heard the sound of the front door creaking, instantly followed by the sound of metal objects rubbing together.
‘I turned around and saw there was an Asian man holding a gun. My first thought was, I was going to die here. This is it.’
He told The New York Times in a separate interview that it was ‘primal instinct’ to attack him, and that Tran’s eyes were ‘menacing’.
Tsay had never seen Tran before.
He said he instantly knew he was there to commit a mass shooting, and was scanning the room for targets.
There was a struggle between the pair, with Tran punching Tsay and hitting him with the gun
Tsay fought back and eventually drove Tran out of the ballroom lobby before he could shoot anyone
Tsay punched the gunman’s glasses off his face in the struggle. Tran fled and later killed himself
The struggle was at the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra , the gunman’s second stop
‘I could tell he was not here to rob us, he wasn’t looking for money. He was looking around the room. It seemed like he was looking for targets, people to harm.
‘Something came over me – I realized I needed to take this weapon, disarm him, or else everybody would have died.
Something came over me – I realized I needed to take this weapon, disarm him, or else everybody would have died.
‘When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both my hands, grabbed the weapon an we struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other. He was hitting me across the face and bashing my head.
‘I was trying to create some distance. Finally, at one point, I was able to pull the gun away from him, shove him aside and create some distance.
‘I was able to get the gun and point it at him, intimidate him, shout: “Get the hell away from here! I’ll shoot! Get away!”
‘At this point, I thought he would run away. He was contemplating whether to fight or run away. I really thought I’d have to shoot him. This is when he turned around and walked out the door, and walked back to his van.
‘I immediately called the police, with the gun still in my hand. I couldn’t believe what happened,’ he said.
His first stop was the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, where ten were killed
After the Monterey Park shooting, the gunman then entered the Lai Lai Ballroom in nearby Alhambra. But patrons wrestled the weapon away from him and he fled
Shortly after he was spotted at the hospital for treatment, Tran was pulled over by police. A SWAT team swarmed the van after a three-hour long standoff
After an hours-long standoff, Tran died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the van he used to flee after his attempt at a second shooting that was thwarted by ‘hero’ patrons on Saturday
Tran was carrying what was described as a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, and a second handgun was discovered in the van where he was found dead, officials said
Hunter Zhao, 41, holds flowers to honor the victims killed in Saturday’s ballroom dance studio shooting in Monterey Park, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023
From the Lai Lai ballroom, Tran is believed to have traveled to a nearby hospital.
He then got back in his white van – which had stolen plates – and drove 22 miles to Torrance.
A SWAT team surrounded the vehicle and upon breaching it, found him dead inside.
Police are yet to confirm exactly what drove him to commit the murders but a source told LA Magazine it was a ‘domestic dispute’ and that he was looking ‘for his wife’.
His first wife – whom he divorced in 2005 – has since spoken anonymously to CNN to describe how they met at Star Dance, where he taught lessons for years.
The woman said he would often berate her if she got a dance step wrong, and that he was quick to fly into a rage.
It remains unclear what Tran did for work.
Tsay’s family praised his efforts, and said he was lucky to be alive.
‘It was just my son. He could have died. He’s lucky, someone was watching over him,’ his father, Tom, told the Times.
Tran lived alone in a small house in the Lakes at Hemet West Senior Community where neighbors say he was kind and quiet.
‘Tran was just a nice guy. I mean, I’d see him riding his little, small motorcycle in and out, once in a while in his van.
‘He’d stop to pet your dog, and everybody around here just thought he was just some quiet, little guy.
‘The people I’ve talked to are just stunned that he was involved in this. Pretty much lived alone, and I guess he taught dance or something, ballroom dance,’ neighbor Pat Roth told Inland News.