Astonishing surveillance images show the moment a brave good Samaritan tackled California dance club mass shooter Huu Can Tran — grabbing his semiautomatic assault pistol even though he was certain he was about to die.
Brandon Tsay, 26, was seen brawling with the 72-year-old shooter as he burst into the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio after already shooting dead 10 people and injuring as many others at a nearby dance hall in Monterey Park, in the east of Los Angeles, late Saturday, reported the New York Post.
The computer coder told US TV breakfast show Good Morning America on Monday that he thought nothing of hearing the ballroom door closing — until it was “instantly followed by the sound of a metal object clinking together”.
‘I’m gonna die here’
“That’s when I turned around and saw that there was an Asian man holding a gun,” he said of the terrifying scene in his family’s ballroom.
“My first thought was I was gonna die here. This was it,” he told the US ABC TV show.
Mr Tsay — who’d never before seen a gun — said it was immediately clear that the gunman “wasn’t here to rob us.”.
“When he was looking around the room, it seemed like he was looking for targets. People to harm,” the heroic bystander told GMA, recalling how the mass shooter then “started prepping his weapon.”.
He also told the New York Times that the man’s “eyes were menacing”.
“Something came over me — I realised I needed to get the weapon away from him,” he told the morning show, which shared surveillance images of his heroic fight that authorities say “saved lives”.
He knew he “needed to take this weapon [and] disarm him or else everybody would have died,” he said.
“When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both my hands, grabbed the weapon and we had a struggle” to get control of the gun, he said.
“He was hitting me across the face, especially in the back of my head. I was trying to use my elbows to separate the gun away from him, create some distance,” he recalled of his heroic caught-on-camera tussle.
“Finally at one point I was able to pull the gun away from him,” Mr Tsay said — with the surveillance images showing him as he grabbed hold of the pistol.
‘I don’t know what came over me’
“That moment, it was primal instinct,” he told the New York Times. “I don’t know what came over me”.
He then managed to “point the gun at him” and shouted: “Get the hell out here! I’ll shoot! Get away! Go!”
“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,” Mr Tsay told Good Morning America.
“This is when he turned around and walked out the door [and] jogged back to the van,” he said of the gunman, who later shot himself dead while surrounded by cops.
“I immediately called police with the gun still in my hand,” he said.
“This could have been much worse,” the sheriff said.
He initially said two onlookers fought back, but the GMA footage showed that Mr Tsay was alone.
“It was just my son. He could have died,” his father, Tom Tsay, told the Times. “He’s lucky, someone was watching over him”.
Mr Tsay said he was left with “bruising all over my body” and “shaking all night” with shock — but realising he was lucky to be alive.
‘Courage is not the absence of fear’
“A lot of people have been telling me how much courage I had.
“But you know what courage is — courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to have adversity to fear when fearful events happen, such as this.
“And crises like this, the people need courage — especially the victims, their friends, their families. My heart goes out to everybody involved,” he said.
“I hope they can find the courage and the strength to persevere.”
This story appeared in the New York Post and is reproduced with permission.