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Brandon Tsay, the man hailed as a hero for stopping the Monterey Park gunman, spoke of the night he disarmed the suspect at the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra, California.
Tsay recalled the night of the ballroom’s Lunar New Year (LNY) celebration when he heard the front door closing and “the sound of metal objects clanging against each other.”
“Then I turned around and saw there was an Asian man with a gun. My first thought was I was going to die here, this is it,” Tsay said during an interview on “Good Morning America” on Monday.
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Tsay, a 26-year-old programmer and third-generation operator of the family-run dance hall, soon realized he had to disarm the man, who has since been identified as 72-year-old Huu Kan Tran.
When I mustered up the courage, I attacked him with both hands, grabbed the weapon, and we had a struggle. We struggled into the lobby and tried to get this weapon away from each other. He punched me in the face and hit the back of my head.
Finally, at one point, I was able to pull the gun away from him, push him aside, create some distance, point the gun at him, intimidate him, and say, “Get out of here “I shoot. away! Go!” At that point I thought he was going to run, but he was just standing here contemplating whether to fight or run.
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Tran eventually turned and fled, and Tsay contacted the police shortly after.
Tran reportedly arrived in Lai Lai in 20 minutes after he reportedly shot and killed 10 people and wounded at least 10 others at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio on West Garvey Avenue at around 10:20 p.m. Saturday.
After a manhunt on Sunday, Tran was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a white van in a shopping center parking lot in Torrance.
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While police have yet to find a motive for the Monterey Park shooting, a witness claimed that Tran was looking for his wife at the dance studio, where an LNY party had just been held.
“He found his wife there, so he started shooting everyone on the … when they dance,” the witness said KCAL News. “He just came and then held the gun and started shooting.”
Tsay, whose actions likely prevented further violence and led authorities to the suspect, has been hailed as a hero by the community.
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“This could have been a lot worse,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said in a news conference Sunday afternoon.
“It was just my son. He could have been dead,” Tsay’s father Tom told The New York Times. “He was lucky, someone was watching over him.”
Tsay, who said he felt traumatized, told “Good Morning America” that he stayed up all night to help police with their investigation.
I was shaking all night. I couldn’t believe what happened. 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 rather the ability to have adversity to fear when fearful events like this happen.
In crises like this, people need courage, especially the victims, their friends, their families. My heart goes out to everyone involved, especially the people at Star Dance Studio and Monterey Park. I hope they can find the courage and strength to persevere.
Asians make up 65.1 percent of Monterey Park’s nearly 60,000 residents, according to census data. The city is located about seven miles east of downtown Los Angeles.
The Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California, in partnership with The Asian American Foundation, Asian Pacific Community Fund, Stop AAPI Hate, Gold House, Stand with Asian Americans and the Chinatown Service Center, organized a fundraiser on GoFundMe benefit the victims. The fundraising campaign has raised nearly $40,000 of the $500,000 goal at the time of writing.