Alhambra, CA – A 26-year-old computer coder went hands-on with the gunman who murdered 11 people and wounded 9 more during a mass shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio on Saturday night, successfully preventing him from carrying out a second mass shooting (video below).
Brandon Tsay said he was helping out at the ticket office at the family-operated Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio that his grandparents originally opened years ago when the incident occurred, The New York Times reported.
Tsay said there were three dancers left out on the dance floor and that he was planning to close up in less than 30 minutes when he heard someone come through the front doors of the building.
He recalled having heard something that sounded like two metallic objects colliding with one another, The New York Times reported.
Tsay said he turned around and saw a man pointing a semiautomatic handgun directly at him.
“My heart sank,” he told The New York Times. “I knew I was going to die.”
He had no idea at the time that the gunman, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, had just shot nearly two dozen people at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio on West Garvey Avenue in Monterey Park only 20 minutes prior.
Even without that knowledge, Tsay said Tran’s intent was clear.
“He was looking at me and looking around, not hiding that he was trying to do harm,” Tsay told The New York Times. “His eyes were menacing.”
That’s when Tsay suddenly lunged at the gunman and grabbed the gun by the barrel.
A security camera in the ballroom lobby showed Tsay as he fiercely brawled with Tran, singlehandedly wrestling the gun away from him in the process.
“It was just my son,” Tsay’s father, Tom Tsay, told The New York Times. “He could have died. He’s lucky – someone was watching over him.”
Tsay said he was determined to get the gun away from his attacker.
“That moment, it was primal instinct,” he told The New York Times. “Something happened there. I don’t know what came over me.”
Tsay was finally able to yank the gun away from Tran, then ordered him to get out of the dance hall.
“Go! Get the hell out of here,” he recalled having told him, according to The New York Times.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna praised the young hero for his decisive and selfless actions.
“What a brave man he is,” Sheriff Luna told The New York Times.
The massacre at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio occurred at approximately 10:20 p.m. on 21 during a weekend of Lunar New Year’s festivities.
Investigators said Tran walked into the dance studio and began gunning people down.
Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said officers arrived at the scene within three minutes of being notified about the mass shooting, KABC reported.
“When they came into the parking lot, it was chaos,” Chief Wiese told reporters on Sunday evening.
People were pouring out the doors, attempting to escape to safety, KABC reported.
Inside, nearly two dozen people had been shot.
“The first officers on scene were some of my youngest officers,” Chief Wiese said. “They had only been on the street for a short period of time.”
He noted the carnage those young officers encountered at the scene was nothing anyone could be “prepared for,” but that they never hesitated as they ran inside to help the victims, KABC reported.
Eleven people were killed and at least nine more were wounded in the shooting, according to KTLA.
All of the victims were believed to be over the age of 50, KABC reported.
Sheriff Luna said Tran then headed over to the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio, where he ultimately encountered Tsay.
Witnesses told police the gunman fled the Alhambra scene in a white van after Tsay disarmed him.
The Torrance Police Department (TPD) conducted a traffic stop on the van at approximately 10:20 a.m. on Sunday, KABC reported.
Investigators said the driver pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall near Hawthorne Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard just before police heard a single gunshot coming from inside the vehicle.
Tactical units responded to the scene and later found Tran unresponsive inside the van, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Investigators said he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Police allegedly located multiple pieces of evidence inside the van tying Tran back to the incidents at both dance studios, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below:
Brandon Tsay is a hero. He fought the Monterey Park shooter and disarmed him.
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) January 24, 2023