Police credit people who stood up to the California shooter who killed 10 with preventing more victims.
A man has told of his desperate struggle to grab the gun from an assailant who police say fatally shot 10 people during a Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park, California in the US.
Brandon Tsai was in the lobby of the Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra Township when he confronted and disarmed a man who entered the ballroom with a gun Saturday night, he said in multiple media interviews Monday.
“My heart sank, I knew I was going to die,” the 26-year-old told the New York Times.
Police later said the gunman was the same man who fatally shot 10 people — five men and five women, all in their 50s or 60s — at a ballroom during a Lunar New Year celebration in nearby Monterey Park shortly before. They identified the suspect as 72-year-old Huu Cang Tran.
“At that point it was primal instinct. I don’t know what came over me,” Tsai told the paper.
“By his body language, his facial expression, his eyes, he was looking for people,” he said.
Screenshots of security footage obtained by ABC News appeared to corroborate Tsai’s account, with police later crediting those who disarmed the attacker with preventing him from carrying out a similar massacre at the Alhambra.
Tsai, whose grandparents founded the family ballroom, also told ABC that during the fight, the gunman was “hitting me in the face, especially in the back of my head. I was trying to use my elbows to pry the gun away from him.
When he finally got hold of the gun, Tsai said he pointed it at the assailant, who hesitated before running away.
Tsai said he then called police “with the gun still in my hand.”
Tran was later found dead from an apparent self-inflicted wound in a white van in Torrance, California, and authorities said they heard a single gunshot when they moved in to arrest him.
On Monday, police were still searching for a motive behind the attack, which occurred as Monterey Park held its first in-person Lunar New Year celebration since the start of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
The incident sent shock waves through the predominantly Asian-American community of 60,000 people, with violent incidents of anti-Asian hate fueled by the pandemic still fresh in the minds of many Asian-American citizens of the US.
The attack also marked the 36th mass shooting in the U.S. this year, the fifth mass killing and the deadliest in the U.S. since 21 people were killed at a school in Uvalde, Texas in May, according to the Gun Violence Archive website. There were 647 shootings with four or more victims nationwide in 2022, according to the website.
Separately, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported last year that there were 61 “active shooter” incidents in the US in 2021, a 52 percent increase from 2020 and the highest number on record.
The department defined an “active shooter” as someone who kills or tries to kill people in a public place in a seemingly random manner. About one in five “active shooter” incidents in 2021 were also mass murders.