Brandon Tsay, a 26-year-old computer coder, has been hailed as a hero for his brave actions at a dance hall in Monterey Park, California. On the night of the tragic event, Tsay was working at the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio, where he is the third generation in his family to operate the business. It was a night like any other, with a “social dance party” taking place to celebrate Lunar New Year. But suddenly, everything changed.
As the night was winding down, Tsay heard the sound of the front door creaking closed, followed by the sound of metal objects clinking together. It was then that he saw the gunman, later identified as Huu Can Tran, 72, enter the dance hall. The man said nothing, and his expressions were mostly in his eyes, as if he was scouting the area for other people. It was clear to Tsay that the man was intent on further violence.
But in that moment of fear, Tsay had a decision to make. He could freeze and be a victim, or he could take action and potentially save lives. He chose the latter. In an exclusive video obtained by NBC News, the harrowing footage captures the moment Tsay and the gunman tussle in an empty lobby. The suspect, dressed in dark clothing and a hat, is seen struggling with Tsay as the two wrestle over the weapon. A shoving match ensues, and Tsay manages to take the gun away from the man.
The weapon has been described as a “semi-automatic assault pistol” with an extended large-capacity magazine attached. The man then punched Tsay in the head, but Tsay managed to hold onto the weapon. The men continued to struggle before Tsay pushed the man off. The man continued to reach for the gun before he finally gave up and walked out of the room.
Tsay then pointed at the man and briefly moved out of the camera’s view before he returned, with the gun in his right hand and using a cellphone with the other. The entire ordeal lasted about 4 minutes.
“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,” Tsay told NBC News’ Lester Holt. “But something amazing happened, a miracle actually. He started to try to prep his weapon so he could shoot everybody, but then it dawned on me that this was the moment to disarm him. I could do something here that could protect everybody and potentially save myself.”
Tsay’s heroic actions potentially prevented more carnage at a second dance hall, just minutes after the gunman had killed 11 people and injured at least nine more at the first site. The motive in Saturday night’s mass shooting is unclear. Law enforcement officials said Monday it appeared to be personal.Multiple law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation said evidence gathered so far seems to rule out terrorism or a hate crime.
Tsay’s actions have earned him the title of hero