MONTEREY PARK, Calif. – Stunning surveillance video has emerged showing the heroic efforts of a dance hall worker who disarmed the Monterey Park killer in the nearby city of Alhambra about 20 minutes after his rampage.
The death toll has risen to 11 in the attack Saturday night at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio. About 20 minutes later, the killer strode into the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in nearby Alhambra, armed with a magazine-fed, semiautomatic assault pistol
Video obtained by CNN shows the killer entering a small room at the Lai Lai. Brandon Tsay, 26, whose family runs the dance hall, is then seen walking towards the gunman, arms outstretched, and moves quickly towards the killer, pushing him out the doorway and into a lobby area.
“I’m going to die.” This is it. This is the end for me,” Tsay recalled thinking when he first saw the gunman. “But then something happened. Something came over me.”
Video from a camera in the room the men then entered shows Tsay ripping the gun from the gunman’s hands. That video, obtained by NBC News, shows the gunman continuing to wrestle Tsay, punching him and grabbing a water bottle and hitting Tsay with it.
“I threatened him that I would shoot,” Tsay told CNN. “I thought I would have to kill him. That I would have to shoot a person.”
But the killer walked out the door. He was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound the next day.
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Police drew scrutiny for taking 5 hours to alert the public of threats
Authorities were pressed to explain why it took five hours after Saturday’s carnage to alert the public that the killer was on the loose. Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said Monday that his department was “strategic” in its decision to release information but that he would review what happened. The shooting took place late Saturday night, and the department reported several hours later that the unknown assailant was at large.
At 2:49 am, more than four hours after the initial 911 calls, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau issued a news advisory confirming fatalities and that the suspect was male, but there was no mention of the status of the investigation. Shortly after 3:30 am, more than five hours after the shooting, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Andrew Meyer held a briefing and said the death toll was 10 and that “the suspect fled the scene and remains outstanding.”
Luna defends information timeline
“When we started putting out public information, the priority was to get this person into custody,” Luna said. “Ultimately it worked. We will go back and look at it as we always do.”
Luna said his department would evaluate how it handled the release of information.
“Nobody is as critical as ourselves as to what worked and specifically what didn’t work,” he said.
Brian Higgins, an adjunct professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former police chief in Bergen County, New Jersey, told the Associated Press that an alert should have gone out right away.
“What took so long?” Higgins said. “Maybe they didn’t have a good handle on what they had. But if they didn’t know, they should have erred on the side of caution and put this out.”
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Shock, relief 2 days after the tragedy
Thomas Wong, a longtime Monterey Park council member, said he is navigating bouts of shock and relief. The shock comes from knowing that his hometown suffered the worst mass shooting in the US since a deadly school attack in Uvalde, Texas, in May. The relief comes from knowing the suspected killer in Monterey Park can no longer hurt anyone.
“We see (mass shootings) proliferate in other parts of the country, but you never expect it to happen in your own backyard,” Wong said Monday in between consoling fellow residents. “To start off the year like this is an unimaginable tragedy.” Read more times.
– Terry Collins, Tami Abdollah and Alia Wong
Wounded patient died two days after shooting
One of the four people being treated at the LA County-USC Medical Center died Monday of gunshot wounds, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services said Monday. A department news release said another of the wounded patients was in serious condition and the other two were recovering.
Authorities said the initial death count from Saturday night’s attack at a dance studio was 10, and at least 10 were injured. Most of the victims were aged 60 or older. The body of the shooter was later found in a van parked about 30 miles away in Torrance.
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Timeline from the first 911 call to the discovery of the killer’s body
At 10:22 pm local time Saturday, police received 911 calls about an active shooter at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio on Garvey Street, the main drag in Monterey Park. Police arrived within three minutes and found chaos as patrons fled the studio. They discover dead and wounded people inside.
At 12:52 pm Sunday, the county sheriff’s SWAT team clears the van. They find “the suspect sustained a self-inflicted gunshot wound and was pronounced dead at the scene,” Luna says.
A timeline from the first call to that announcement is here.
Authorities search for motive carnage
Authorities continued searching for clues about Tran’s motive, which remained unclear. “We all want answers to questions that we may never have answers to,” Monterey Park Police Chief Scott Wiese said. “That’s kind of the enigma of this.”
Contributing: Orlando Mayorquin and Jordan Mendoza, USA TODAY; The Associated Press