Brandon Tsay, 26, was at the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio, which he helps run with his parents, in Alhambra, California, on Saturday night, Jan. 21, when 72-year-old Huu Can Tran walked in holding a gun. Unbeknownst to Tsay at the time, Tran had allegedly just killed 10 people and wounded many others at a Lunar New Year celebration at Star Dance Studio in nearby Monterey Park.
“My first thought was I was going to die here, this is it,” Tsay said of the moment he spotted Tran.
Tsay recalled watching Tran scan the room as if he was “looking for targets — people to harm.” When Tran started prepping his weapon, Tsay said “something came over him,” and he realized, “I needed to get the weapon away from him. I needed to take this weapon, disarm him, or else everybody would have died.”
He continued: “When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both my hands, grabbed the weapon and we had a struggle. 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.”
Eventually, Tsay was able to wrench the gun away from Tran. He then pointed the weapon at Tran and ordered him to leave: “I thought he would run away, but he was just standing there contemplating whether to fight or to run. 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.”
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Tsay said he sustained several bruises during the confrontation but was otherwise unharmed. “I was shaking all night,” he said. “I couldn’t believe what happened. 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… My heart goes out to everybody involved, especially the people in Star Dance Studio and Monterey Park. I hope they can find the courage and the strength to persevere.”
On Sunday night, Jan. 22, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna confirmed that Tran had been found dead in a white cargo van after an hours-long standoff with police. Luna said Train was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Authorities are still investigating the shooting and have yet to determine a motive behind it.