Moment hero bystander who believed he was ‘going to die’ grabs Monterey Park shooter’s illegal semi-automatic pistol at second dance hall after he killed eleven people in jealous rage
- Brandon Tsay, 26, was at the Lai Lai Ballroom when Huu Can Tran, 72, arrived
- Tsay says that he ‘believed he was going to die’ in the moment he tackled Tran
- Footage of the heroic and unsettling moment was captured on security camera
The full footage of a heroic bystander risking his life to disarm the Monterey Park shooter, by grabbing his illegal semi-automatic pistol after he killed eleven people in a jealous rage, has emerged.
Brandon Tsay, 26, has been lauded for his act of bravery after a traumatic tussle with Huu Can Tran, 72, took place at 10.40 pm Monday night at the Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra, California.
Surveillance footage from the seemingly empty dance hall lobby obtained by NBC News shows Tran, who was armed at the time, dressed in dark clothing and a hat, walking out of sight before remerging in a struggle with Tsay.
The two are seen wrestling over the deadly weapon, Tran then starts punching Tsay in the head while he attempts to push the 72-year-old off him.
The full footage of a heroic bystander risking his life to disarm the Monterey Park shooter, by grabbing his illegal semi-automatic pistol after he killed eleven people in a jealous rage, has emerged
Tran had already killed 11 people at the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park before Tsay took his ‘semi-automatic pistol’ from him and called the cops
Tran then tries to reach for the gun after Tsay manages to take it off him before the elderly man finally concedes defeat and walks out of the room.
Tsay then points at the man briefly moving out of the camera’s view before returning with the gun in his right hand and a cell phone in the other. The entire ordeal lasted about 4 minutes.
The heroic 26-year-old told NBC News that the incident felt like a matter of life or death but risking his life to save others had been a priority.
‘There was a moment I actually froze up, because I was, I had the belief that I was gonna die, like my life was ending here, at that very moment,’ said Tsay.
He told Good Morning America and The New York Times on Monday how he was helping out on Saturday night at his family’s business when dozens had come to the ballroom for a Lunar New Year party.
Tran had already killed 11 people at the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park.
Surveillance footage from the seemingly empty dance hall lobby shows Tran, who was armed at the time, dressed in dark clothing and a hat, walking out of sight at the start of the vision
The two are seen wrestling over the deadly weapon, Tran then starts punching Tsay in the head while he attempts to push the 72-year-old off him
Tran then tries to reach for the gun after Tsay manages to take it off him in the clash
Tsay is determined to keep the gun away from Tran who has lost his glasses during the fray
Tran finally concedes defeat and walks out of the room a distressed Tsay pointing at him
Tsay is seen carrying the gun in his right hand and a cell phone in the other, presumably calling police at this point. The entire ordeal lasted about 4 minutes
Police sources said that he was ‘looking for his wife.’ It remains unclear if she is among the victims.
Tran was looking for more victims when Tsay – whose family owns the Lai Lai Ballroom – confronted him, snatching his weapon from him after a struggle and scaring him away.
In an interview with GMA’s Robin Roberts in Monterey Park, Tsay described the moment he realized the shooter had come looking to kill.
‘It was Chinese New Year’s, we were hosting a social dance party.
‘I was in the lobby and it was late into the evening. Most of our customers already left, I was looking into the dance ballroom.
‘This is when I heard the sound of the front door creaking, instantly followed by the sound of metal objects rubbing together.’
The heroic 26-year-old told NBC News that the incident felt like a matter of life or death but risking his life to save others had been a priority
Tsay told Good Morning America that he thought he was going to die when he saw Tran enter the ballroom with his gun
FACT BOX TITLE
The Los Angeles County Coroner Medical Examiner’s Office has released the names of all 11 victims in the Monterey Park mass shooting. All were in their late 50s to mid 70s.
The names are:
My Nhan, 65
Lilian Li, 63
Xiujuan Yu, 57
Muoi Ung, 67
Hong Jian, 62
Yu Kao, 72
Chia Yau, 76
Valentino Alvero, 68
Wen Yu, 64
Ming Ma, 72
Diana Tom, 70
He told The New York Times in a separate interview that it was ‘primal instinct’ to attack him, and that Tran’s eyes were ‘menacing’. Tsay had never seen Tran before.
He said he instantly knew he was there to commit a mass shooting, and was scanning the room for targets.
‘I could tell he was not here to rob us, he wasn’t looking for money. He was looking around the room. It seemed like he was looking for targets, people to harm.
‘Something came over me – I realized 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 an we struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other. He was hitting me across the face and bashing my head.
‘I was trying to create some distance. Finally, at one point, I was able to pull the gun away from him, shove him aside and create some distance.
‘I was able to get the gun and point it at him, intimidate him, shout: ‘Get the hell away from here! I’ll shoot! Get away!’
‘At this point, I thought he would run away. He was contemplating whether to fight or run away. I really thought I’d have to shoot him. This is when he turned around and walked out the door, and walked back to his van.
‘I immediately called the police, with the gun still in my hand. I couldn’t believe what happened,’ he said.
Tran’s first stop was the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park – where 11 people died
The struggle with Tsay was at the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra, the gunman’s second stop
Shortly after he was spotted at the hospital for treatment, Tran was pulled over by police. A SWAT team swarmed the van after a three-hour long standoff
Tran died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the van he used to flee after his attempt at a second shooting that was thwarted by Tsay
From the Lai Lai ballroom, Tran is believed to have traveled to a nearby hospital.
He then got back in his white van – which had stolen plates – and drove 22 miles to Torrance.
A SWAT team surrounded the vehicle and upon breaching it, found him dead inside.
Police are yet to confirm exactly what drove him to commit the murders but a source told LA Magazine it was a ‘domestic dispute’ and that he was looking ‘for his wife.’
His first wife – whom he divorced in 2005 – has since spoken anonymously to CNN to describe how they met at Star Dance, where he taught lessons for years.
The woman said he would often berate her if she got a dance step wrong, and that he was quick to fly into a rage. It remains unclear what Tran did for work.
Tran was carrying what was described as a semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, and a second handgun that was discovered in the van where he was found dead, officials said
Hunter Zhao, 41, was seen holding flowers to honor the victims killed in Saturday’s ballroom dance studio shooting in Monterey Park a day after the massacre
Tsay’s family praised his efforts, and said he was lucky to be alive.
‘It was just my son. He could have died. He’s lucky, someone was watching over him,’ his father, Tom, told the New York Times.
Tran lived alone in a small house in the Lakes at Hemet West Senior Community where neighbors said he was kind and quiet.
‘Tran was just a nice guy. I mean, I’d see him riding his small motorcycle in and out, once in a while, in his van.
‘He’d stop to pet your dog, and everybody around here just thought he was just some quiet, little guy.
‘The people I’ve talked to are just stunned that he was involved in this. Pretty much lived alone, and I guess he taught dance or something, ballroom dance,’ neighbor Pat Roth told Inland News.
Who were the victim’s of the Lunar New Year massacre?
A Go Fund Me page was set up for the Lunar New Year victim’s families.
The 11 people who lost their lives in the tragic mass shooting ranged between their late 50s to mid 70s.
Four of the victims had individual pages picturing them set up, while seven others are yet to be identified with photos.
Ming Wei Ma, 72
Ming Wei Ma, was the same age as Tran, 72, and the owner of the Star Dance Studio $45,565 was raised.
A post on the Go Fund Me said: ‘It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Ming Wei Ma, father of Ray Ma and Mary Ma.
Ming Wei Ma, was the same age as Tran, 72, and the owner of the Star Dance Studio $45,565 was raised
‘He was one of the people killed in the January 21, 2023 shooting in Monterey Park.
‘He was the owner of Star Dance Studio and built a community that dearly loved and respected him for his kindness and liveliness.’
XiuJuan Yu, 57
Xiujuan Yu, 57, was celebrating Lunar New Year with friends when she was killed by Tran a page set up to help with funeral costs raised $9,703 and is hoping to reach its goal of $30,000.
The description read: ‘My aunt Xiujuan Yu fell victim to a mass shooting at the Star Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California.
‘What was meant to be a night out celebrating the Lunar New Year with friends ended up being a devastating and life-changing event for my family.
‘After days of uncertainty, anxiety, and waiting in worry, we received the news that my aunt was indeed among the deceased at the incident.
Xiujuan Yu, 57, was celebrating Lunar New Year with friends when she was killed by Tran a page set up to help with funeral costs raised $9,703 and is hoping to reach its goal of $30,000
‘This sudden tragedy has struck my family, and despite our best attempts to mourn for her, we graciously ask the community for help in raising funds for her funeral at this time.’
Yu immigrated to the United States from China in the early 2010s and was hopeful to make a life there with her family.
She was the mother-of-three, two of whom are currently enrolled at California State Universities to pursue Sports Medicine and Kinesiology.
‘My aunt and uncle have worked tirelessly to support their daughters’ livelihood and education, working odd jobs and taking on labor-intensive occupations to make ends meet,’ the description continued.
‘The family has just been able to get by with the support of both parents, but now with one of them no longer in the picture and the steep cost of unanticipated funeral services awaiting them, we have deemed it necessary to reach out to the community for assistance.’
Mymy Nhan, 65
65-year-old Mymy Nhan lost her life at the studio where she had spent more than a decade learning dance.
A page set up to cover the costs of her funeral described her as ‘kind beyond words.’
‘We start the new year broken, learning about the death of Mymy Nhan,’ the page description read.
65-year-old Mymy Nhan lost her life at the studio where she had spent more than a decade learning dance
The statement for the 65-year-old said that it had been a weekend routine to attend the dance studio
‘She was one of [eleven] people killed in the Monterey Park mass shooting. Mymy loved dancing at Star Ballroom Dance Studio for more than a decade.
‘It was a weekend routine, and we never expected Saturday to be her last. [She] was kind beyond words.
‘She was a caretaker to all people around her. She was a loving aunt, sister, daughter and friend. She was our biggest cheerleader.
‘The money raised here will be used for Mymy’s funeral. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We truly appreciate the support of our neighbors and community.’
Valentino Alvero, 68
Meanwhile, Valentino Alvero, 68, was remembered as a loving father, dedicated son and brother, grandfather and uncle.
‘He was a loving father, a dedicated son and brother, a grandfather who loved his three granddaughters fiercely, an uncle who loved his nieces and nephews like his own,’ a tribute to Alvero read.
‘He loved people and hearing about their lives and in return, he shared his own stories with so much gusto and enthusiasm that you couldn’t help but listen and laugh along with him.
Valentino Alvero, 68, was remembered as a loving father, dedicated son and brother, grandfather and uncle
‘He loved ballroom dancing, he loved his community, and he was the life of any party.
‘We wish we could let him know that we will all miss him for the rest of our days on this earth.
‘We hope that he danced to his heart’s content until the very end and hope that he his now dancing in heaven.’
Diana Tom, 70
Diana Tom, 70, was critically wounded in the shooting and later died in hospital on Sunday. Her family have described her as a ‘hard-working mother, wife and grandmother who loved to dance,’ reports ABC.
‘On behalf of Diana Tom, we, her family, condemn this senseless act of violence that has uprooted the lives of all the victims, their families and the entire API community at large,’ Tom’s family said in a statement. ‘We honor and support all of those affected.’
Diana Tom, 70, was critically wounded in the shooting and later died in hospital on Sunday her family said they ‘condemned’ the ‘senseless act of violence’
‘On the night of January 21, Diana was at Star Dance celebrating the Lunar New Year by dancing with her friends. To those who knew her, she was someone who always went out of her way to give to others.’
Not much more is known about the seven other victims, Lilian Li, 63, Muoi Ung, 67, Hong Jian, 62, Yu Kao, 72, Chia Yau, 76 and Wen Yu, 64.
There have been 39 mass shootings in the United States so far in 2023. That’s more than there have been at this point in any year on record.
The shooting in Monterey Park was the deadliest attack since the Uvalde massacre in May 2022.
The dangerous pace of mass shootings escalated in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic and has persisted since then.
Between 2019 and 2020, the total number of mass shootings each year jumped from 417 to 610.
Then, 2021 became the worst year for mass shootings since GVA began tracking them in 2012, with 690 across 44 states and Washington, DC. There were 647 mass shootings in 2022.
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