Amid Chaos of Shooting, a 'Final Act of Selflessness'

Witnesses describe workers at 2 different dance studios confronting the gunman
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 23, 2023 6:43 AM CST
Amid Chaos of Shooting, a 'Final Act of Selflessness'
Police tape cordons off the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park, California, on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

As police try to figure out a motive for Saturday night's mass shooting in Monterey Park, California, which left 10 dead and 10 others injured, stories are emerging on the heroes who tried to stop the gunman. Among them: Ming Wei Ma, the owner of the Star Ballroom Dance Studio where the massacre took place. Eric Chen, a friend of Ma, says survivors indicated that Ma "was the first to rush the shooter," in what CBS News notes was "a final act of selflessness." "Heartbreaking and ... unthinkable that it would happen," said Chen.

Meanwhile, witnesses are crediting a worker at another dance studio just miles away for averting a second shooting by the same suspect. Brandon Tsay, 26, who helps run his family's Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra when he's not at his coding job, tells the New York Times that a man came into the studio shortly after 10:30pm Saturday, which police say was about 20 minutes after the Monterey Park shooting. In the gunman's hand, per Tsay: a semi-automatic assault pistol that he realized right away wasn't for a simple robbery. "From his body language, his facial expression, his eyes, he was looking for people," he says. "My heart sank. I knew I was going to die."

Tsay says he doesn't know what came over him next, but that "primal instinct" took over and he lunged at the man's weapon. He says he and the gunman battled for control of the gun for at least a minute and a half, until the suspect briefly let go of his grip in what Tsay says looked like an attempt to reposition his hands to start shooting. That's when Tsay was able to yank the gun away and the suspect fled. Police at a Sunday presser said that "two community members" had helped disarm the suspect, but Tsay's family says it was just him.

story continues below

"He could have died," Tsay's father, Tom Tsay, tells the Times. His sister, Brenda, who reviewed the footage, says the struggle between her brother and the gunman showed just how intent the gunman was on doing harm. "He kept coming at him," she says. "He really wanted the gun back." The suspect, 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in a nearby strip mall parking lot on Sunday as police started closing in on him, officials say. (More Monterey Park shooting stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.