A man who bravely disarmed a shooter about a half-hour after the shooter gunned down 10 people at a Lunar New Year celebration near Los Angeles recounted the chilling encounter — and his first thought: that he “was going to die.”
After the Saturday night carnage in Monterey Park, California, the shooter, identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, fled to nearby Alhambra, entering the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio, where Brandon Tsay, 26 — unaware of the slaughter some 20 minutes earlier — confronted him in the lobby.
In an interview Monday on “Good Morning America,” Tsay, who helps his family run the venue, said he heard the ballroom’s front door click close behind him — and came face to face with “an Asian man holding a gun.”
“My first thought was, I was going to die here, this is it,” Tsay told ABC News’ Robin Roberts.
Tsay said the shooter was “looking around the room” as if he was “looking for targets — people to harm.”
“He started prepping the weapon and something came over me,” Tsay recounted.
“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.”
“When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both my hands, grabbed the weapon and we had a struggle,” he recalled. “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 separate the gun from the suspect during the struggle — until he finally was able to pull the weapon away and shove the man aside.
Tsay said he pointed the gun at the shooter and shouted: “Get the hell out of here! I’ll shoot! Get away! Go!”
“I thought he would run away, but he was just standing there contemplating whether to fight or to run,” Tsay recalled.
“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’s older sister Brenda, who runs the business, told The New York Times the footage showed the gunman’s fierce struggle to keep control of his weapon.
“He kept coming at him,” she told the news outlet. “He really wanted the gun back.”
Tsay said he later learned the same man had opened fire at the Star Dance Studio in a predominately Asian community of Monterey Park, killing at least 10 people and wounding 10 others.
On Sunday, after a daylong manhunt, police located Tran’s vehicle along a road in Torrance, about 30 miles southwest of Monterey Park.
According to ABC, as cops pulled behind the van in a marked patrol car, the vehicle entered a shopping center parking lot. When officers exited their patrol car to approach the van, they heard one gunshot coming from inside the vehicle. The officers found Tran dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside the van, which had a stolen license plate, according to authorities, ABC reported.
The Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio’s surveillance cameras captured the frightening struggle between Tran and Tsay, who told ABC he was bruised over his entire body — including across his nose and the back of his head.
“I was shaking all night. I couldn’t believe what happened,” he said. “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.”