STORY: Flowers were placed, Monday, outside of the California dance hall where a 72-year-old gunman opened fire over the weekend, killing 11 people and later killing himself… as new details emerged suggesting the death toll could have been much worse.
“My first thought was I was going to die here.”
Brandon Tsay - who’s now being hailed a hero - came face-to-face with the gunman on Saturday night, some 20 minutes after the deadly shooting in nearby Monterey Park.
Tsay told ‘Good Morning America’ the gunman walked into the dance hall Tsay operates in a neighboring city and started prepping his gun. Tsay’s instincts took over:
"I realized I needed to get the weapon away from him. I needed to take this weapon, disarm him, or else everybody would have died. 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 was trying to use my elbows to separate the gun away from him, create some distance. Finally, at one point, I was able to pull the gun away from him, shove him aside, create some distance, point the gun at him, intimidate him. I shout at him and say, 'Get the hell out of here! I'll shoot! Get away! Go!' And at this point, I thought he would run away but he he was just standing there contemplating whether to fight or to run away. I really thought I would have to shoot him if he came at me. This is when he turned around and walked out the door, and jogged back to his van. I immediately called police with the gun still in my hand. "
About 12 hours later, police officers approached a white cargo van the suspect was driving... and heard a single gun shot from inside as he killed himself.
“My heart goes out to everybody involved, especially the people in Star Dance Studio and Monterey Park. I hope they could find the courage and strength to persevere."
Monterey Park's Star Ballroom Dance Studio, which one of its teachers described to Reuters as a beloved community hub, was hosting a Chinese Lunar New Year dance when the shooting occurred.