Man seen as hero grabbed gun from Monterey Park shooter: 'I needed to take this weapon'

Monterey Park Police investigate the scene of a multiple murder scene on the 100 block of west Garvey Ave on Saturday Jan 22, 2023. in Monterey Park.
Monterey Park police investigate the scene of a mass shooting on Saturday in the 100 block of West Garvey Avenue in Monterey Park. (Raul Roa / Los Angeles Times)

After opening fire at a Monterey Park dance studio Saturday night, the Lunar New Year gunman went to a second dance facility not far away in Alhambra, which officials said appeared to be his next target.

But when he arrived at Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra, he faced resistance.

“The suspect walked in there, probably with the intent to kill two more people,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said. “But two community members disarmed him, took possession of his weapon, and the suspect ran away.”

The two people were not identified, but the suspect fled the studio in a white van the police found hours later.

"I needed to take this weapon away from him," Brandon Tsay said in an interview on "Good Morning America." "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.

"I needed to take this weapon, disarm him, or else everybody would have died," he said.

Luna said he considered the two people who stopped the gunman "to be heroes.”

Police believe that van is the one officers tracked to Torrance before noon Sunday, where officers surrounded the vehicle. The gunman was found dead inside.

At Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio on Sunday morning, a handmade sign affixed to the front doors said, “Closed, in observance to Star Dance Tragedy” in red marker.

There were no obvious signs that anything had occurred in the foyer visible through the glass doors, save for a bottle of hand sanitizer askew in the middle of the floor.

Standing outside the squat white-painted brick building, Charlene Lung — an 82-year-old retired teacher — said she had been taking a private dance class inside and was unaware of the mass shooting or any incident at Lai Lai.

She and her instructor, who were both wearing dance shoes, had entered through a side door earlier that morning and hadn’t seen the sign posted on the front door.

“If any one of us know of a shooting incident we wouldn’t be here because it’s risky,” Lung said, explaining that she had been enjoying Lunar New Year’s Eve celebrations with her family Saturday night and not seen any news.

The shooting at the Monterey Park ballroom dance studio left 10 people dead and 10 hurt. No motive has been established.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.