Monterey Park Tragedy: How the Gunman Was Disarmed, Prevented From Causing Further Bloodshed
At least 11 people were left dead and another nine were injured after a male suspect opened fire inside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California. The city, which is 65% Asian American, was celebrating the opening of the popular Lunar New Year Festival.
In the wake of the weekend tragedy in California's Monterey Park, newly surfaced reports have detailed just how the gunman was held off and prevented from causing further bloodshed at a second location.
About 20 minutes after the first shooting, the suspect, identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, went to the Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in the city of Alhambra. It was there that Brandon Tsay was able to wrestle the gun away from Tran and is being hailed a hero for his bravery.
"It was Chinese New Year's. 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, and this is when I heard the sound of the front door quickly closing and instantly followed by the sound of metal object clinking together as if they were rubbing," Tsay recounted to ABC News. "That's when I turned around and saw that there was an Asian man holding a gun."
"My first thoughts was – I was gonna die here. This was it," Tsay added. He said he did not recognize Tran, who would later die of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
"He didn't seem like he was here for any money, he wasn't here to rob us," Tsay said. "When 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 get the weapon away from him."
"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, create some distance."
Tsay was able to wrestle the gun from the suspect, who is assumed to be Tran, and told him to leave.
"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."
The shooter then left the studio and went back to his van.
"A lot of people have been telling me how much courage I had to confront the situation like this," Tsay said. "But, you know what courage is? Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to have adversity of fear when fearful events happen such as this."
Surveillance footage of Tsay wrestling the firearm from Tran's possession has since surfaced online.
Tran, the suspected shooter, was later found dead on Sunday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Torrance, about 30 miles southwest of Monterey Park. The gunshot was first heard after authorities approached the van.
Inside the van, investigators found “several pieces of evidence” that linked Tran to the crime, including a handgun.
One of the victims was identified as 65-year-old Mymy Nhan, who spent years at the dance studio. According to a statement from her family, she was a “loving aunt, sister, daughter and friend.” She was the first person shot and killed during the mass shooting.
Tiffany Liou, a CNN affiliate, said Nhan was related to her through marriage.
has been identified as Lilan Li, a 63-year-old woman. The remaining victims have yet to be identified but their ages range between 50 and 70. While 10 were first killed and another 10 were injured at the dance studio, one additional victim did succumb to their injuries on Monday, according to LAC+USC Medical Center, bringing the total fatalities to 11.
While authorities have yet to release a motive behind the shooting, early speculation suggests domestic violence
may have been a contributing factor.
Shooter Had History of 'Vendettas'
A former acquaintance of Tran who lived with him for several years has described him as distrustful and difficult to get along with, noting he had few friends and “a lot of vendettas against people.” Tran is said to have complained that the instructors at the dance hall said “evil things about him” and said he was “hostile to a lot of people there.”
Tran was also a regular at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, the dance venue he attacked, as well as Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio, where his attack was stopped. According to his former acquaintance, dancing was his only hobby but he reportedly held grudges against the people who attended the studios and those who worked there, accusing them of not being friendly towards him.
According to researchers, the shooter is the oldest person to carry out a mass shooting in a public venue in US history.
Tran’s ex-wife spoke to CNN
under the condition she would not be publicly identified. The pair divorced between 2005 and 2006 and had no children, and had met roughly 20 years ago at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio. According to his ex-wife, he gave informal dance lessons at the studio, and also worked as a truck driver.
His ex-wife said he was never violent with her, but detailed he was quick to anger whenever she made the wrong step during a dance routine. He filed for a divorce in 2005, and the judge approved of the divorce in 2006.
Additionally, newly surfaced detailed by the Hemet Police Department indicated Tran previously filed a police report "alleging past fraud, theft, and poisoning allegations involving his family in the Los Angeles area 10 to 20 years ago." The department noted Tran intended to provide evidence to support the claim but he never returned to the station.
The gun used in the shooting was identified as a Cobray M11 9mm semi-automatic weapon, which Los Angeles County Sheriff Rover Luna described as "not legal" in California. Authorities are still unclear of how Tran obtained the weapon.
Luna detailed during a late Monday briefing that Tran's limited criminal history involved an arrest for unlawful possession of a firearm in 1990. The official also detailed that investigators believed Tran was manufacturing homemade firearm suppressors.
A preliminary search of Tran's home has since turned over numerous electronic devices such as cellphones and computers.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation will not be leading the investigation even after their participation over the weekend. Instead, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) will be taking the lead on the investigation.