Monterey Park mass shooting: One year after massacre, hero Brandon Tsay is helping his community heal


MONTEREY PARK, Calif. (KABC) — One year ago, now 27-year-old Brandon Tsay was closing up his family business, the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra where he worked as a manager.

That’s when the Monterey Park mass shooter entered with an assault weapon having just killed 11 people at the nearby star ballroom. Tsay lunged at the shooter, disarming him, taking control of his gun, saving the lives of staff and customers who were inside the studio.

“I was thinking about the community and the people inside the studio at the time. I think what really motivated to me to take that first step was the teaching of my family, my mother saying it’s better to confront your fears and face danger than just turning a blind eye,” said Tsay.

Although Tsay still manages the Lai Lai Ballroom and studio which his grandmother opened in the 1990’s, most of his time is spent as a student now studying sociology at Pasadena City College.

“I feel like my life has changed a complete 180. Turned around. Before this I was never really the center of attention, but due to recent events and a lot of outreach, I’ve met so many people I never thought I would be able to see in my life,” said Tsay.

From being honored at a Laker game to receiving a standing ovation at the state of the union address, recognized by president Biden, Tsay says therapy has helped him transform from an introvert to an extrovert and embrace the attention. But, it hasn’t been easy. in the months following the shooting, Tsay struggled with his mental health.

“I was very paranoid because the community felt like it was a dangerous environment to be in. It would be complete strangers out in public and I would be looking over my shoulder, not giving them the benefit of the doubt. I now know from the community healing and people reaching out to me, it seems like there’s a lot of positivity out there and I shouldn’t let this one incident get to my head and say everyone is bad because. I should take it with a grain of salt and believe that humans, there’s innate good to them,” said Tsay.

A couple in Arcadia continue to remember and honor their friend who died when a gunman opened fire inside a Monterey Park dance studio one year ago.

Although Star Ballroom in neighboring Monterey Park will not re-open, the dancing has continued at Lai Lai Ballroom which Tsay describes as therapeutic.

“We have seen so many new and happy faces since then. It has been such a journey to say the least. After the incident, we were very skeptical about whether our community would ever be the same. I’m happy to announce that we’re back on track. Everyone is happily dancing together, connecting with one another,” said Tsay.

Brandon Tsay, using his actions that horrible night one year ago to help the community heal. Last weekend, he organized a community remembrance fair at Lai Lai which included mental health resources.

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