It was late Saturday night when Brandon Tsay heard the “distinctive sound of metal” in the lobby of Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio, a ballroom in Alhambra, California, he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday night.
Tsay, whose family had owned the business for three generations, was working the ticket booth when someone walked in and she quickly knew that the silent, stoic man was trouble.
The man, who appeared to be scanning the room, pointed a firearm at him, Tsay said.
Tsay froze when she saw the gunman, who authorities said had just opened fire at a Lunar New Year celebration at another dance studio in nearby Monterey Park, killing 11 people and wounding 10 others.
“I’m going to die. That’s it. This is the end for me,” Tsay recalled thinking at the time. “But then something happened. Something took hold of me.
He lunged at Tran and wrestled with him for about 40 seconds, but said it felt like “much longer.” Tran hit him multiple times in the face, the back of the neck, the back and the hands, Tsay said.
“I was trying to deflect the gun away from me and the ballroom, onto the ground in case I fired,” he said.
In those seconds, while his life was on the line, Tsay thought to himself: “If I drop this weapon, what would happen to me, to the people around me, to my friends, to my family?”
Tsay was eventually able to wrest the gun from the gunman, the first time he had ever held a gun, and told him to go away, he said.
“I threatened to shoot him,” Tsay said. “I thought I would have to kill him. That I would have to shoot a person.”
At first, it appeared the man was considering attacking Tsay again, but then he stormed out of the lobby and ran back to his truck, said Tsay, who previously shared her account on “Good Morning America.”
After he left, Tsay immediately called the police, still with the gun in her hands.
Now Tsay is being hailed as a hero for stopping the man authorities say was responsible for devastating a largely Asian community on Lunar New Year’s Eve. After opening fire inside the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, the gunman made his way to the second ballroom in Alhambra, authorities said.
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