Monterey Park mass shooting: Man who disarmed California suspect says ‘Something came over me’

MONTEREY PARK, California– The night drew to a close after a Lunar Near Year celebration at the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra, Calif. on Saturday as Brandon Tsay heard the front door close behind him.

“I turned around and saw that there was an Asian man holding a gun. My first thought was that I was going to die here, that’s it,” Tsay, 26, told ABC News’ Robin Roberts during an interview Monday on Good Morning America.”

Tsay, who helps run the dance hall with his family, said the shooter “scanned around the room” as if “looking for targets — people who could be harmed.”

“He started preparing the gun and something came over me,” Tsay recalled. “I realized I had to take the gun away from him. I had to take this gun, disarm him or everyone would have died.”

“When I had the courage, I lunged at him with both hands, grabbed the gun and we had a fight,” he added. “We fought our way into the lobby and tried to get this weapon away from each other. He punched me in the face and hit me on the back of the head.”

Tsay said he used his elbows to separate the gun from the suspect during the fight until finally he was able to pull the gun away and push the man aside. Tsay said he then pointed the gun at the suspect and yelled, “Get out of here! I will shoot! Go away! Go!”

“I thought he was going to run, but he just stood there, debating whether to fight or run,” Tsay recalled. “I really thought I had to shoot him and he came at me. At that moment, he turned and walked out the door, jogging back to his van. I immediately called the police, gun still in my hand.”

Tsay didn’t know at the time, but later learned that the same man – identified by authorities as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran – had allegedly shot at another dance studio in nearby Monterey Park about 20 minutes earlier, killing at least 10 people and 10 more injured.

The mass shooting at Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, a predominantly Asian community, took place just after 10:20 p.m. local time Saturday night, on what should have been the most festive day of the year for people of Asian descent. Tran allegedly fled the scene in a white van and drove to the Alhambra, where he entered the Lai Lai ballroom & Studio before disarmament, authorities said.

On Sunday, after a days-long manhunt, police located Tran’s vehicle along a road in Torrance, about 30 miles southwest of Monterey Park. When police pulled up behind the van in a marked squad car, the vehicle pulled into a mall parking lot. As officers exited their squad car to approach the van, they heard a shot from inside the vehicle. Officers found Tran dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the van, which authorities said had a stolen license plate.

The Ballroom Lai Lai & Studio’s security cameras captured the fight between Tran and Tsay. Tsay told ABC News that he had bruises all over his body from the incident, including his nose and the back of his head.

“I shivered all night. I couldn’t believe what happened,” he said. “Many people have told me how much courage I had to face a situation like this. But do you know what courage is? Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to fear adversity when such frightening events happen that way.”

“In crises like this, people need courage, especially the victims, their friends, their families,” he added. “My heart goes out to everyone involved, especially the folks at Star Dance Studio and Monterey Park. I hope they find the courage and strength to persevere.”

Copyright © 2023 ABC News Internet Ventures. Monterey Park mass shooting: Man who disarmed California suspect says ‘Something came over me’

Laura Coffey

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