The California man who says he disarmed suspected mass shooter Huu Can Tran claimed that he thought he was “going to die” before managing to turn the weapon on Tran himself, yelling “Get the hell out of here!”
Brandon Tsay, an employee at the Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra – where police say Tran headed after killing 10 inside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park on Saturday night – recounted the harrowing scenes Monday in an interview with ABC News.
“It was Chinese New Years. We were hosting a social dance party. I was in the lobby, it was late into the evening, most of our customers already left. I wasn’t paying attention to the front door, I was looking into the dance ballroom, the dance floor,” Tsay said. “This is when I heard the sound of the front door creaking closing, instantly followed by the sound of a metal object clinking together as if they were rubbing. That is when I turned around and saw there was an Asian man holding a gun. My first thought was ‘I was going to die here, this was it.’”
Tsay said Tran – whom he did not recognize – was “looking around the room… like he was looking for targets, people to harm.”
“This is when he started prepping the weapon and something came over me, 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,” Tsay told ABC News. Police say Tran was carrying a semi-automatic pistol.
“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,” Tsay said. “He was hitting me across the face, bashing the back of my head. I was trying to use my elbows to separate the gun away from him, creating some distance.
“Finally at one point I was able to pull the gun away from him, shove him aside, create some distance, point the gun at him, intimidate him, shouting at him saying ‘get the hell out of here, I’ll shoot! Get away! Go!” Tsay continued.
“At this point I thought he would run away but he was just standing there contemplating whether to fight or to run away. I really thought I would have to shoot him if he came at me,” he added. “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 told ABC News that after the encounter, he was “shaken all night” and upon waking up the next day, noticed there was bruising on his face and body.
Tran ultimately was found dead Sunday in Torrance by what investigators described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“My heart goes out to everybody involved especially the people in Star Dance studio and Monterey Park,” Tsay said. “I hope they can find the courage and strength to persevere.”