Alhambra AAPI community heals through dance in wake of shooting

The AAPI community gathered in Alhambra Saturday night to celebrate community, nearly four months ago to the day since an armed gunman tried to continue his rampage at that very same dance hall.

The day of tea and dancing at the Lai Lai Ballroom Saturday was part of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Southern California's 40th anniversary, and part of their celebration of AAPI Heritage Month. The celebration was held in conjunction with the Tsay Family, the owners of the Lai Lai Ballroom. The owners' son Brandon Tsay was the man who disarmed the gunman who'd killed 11 people earlier that night at a dance hall in Monterey Park.

Twenty people were shot and 11 were killed on Jan. 21 when police said Huu Can Tran walked into the Star Ballroom Dance Studio and opened fire. Tran tried to continue his rampage at the Lai Lai just minutes later, but surveillance video captured Tsai wrestling the gun away from Tran before Tran ran off.

"For May’s AAPI Heritage Month, we join the residents of Monterey Park and Alhambra for celebration and healing in the wake of the Lunar New Year tragedy to show the world that we are proud of all of our Asian ancestries, languages and current experiences as Americans," said AJSOCAL CEO Connie Chung Joe.


The ballroom was packed Saturday night as dancers dazzled, showcasing various dance styles, showing the resiliency of a community not long removed from the deadliest shooting in Los Angeles County history.

"We put this event together to draw the community closer together and to shed light and brightness for the future," Brandon Tsay said.

Tsay was honored as a hero for his actions the night of the shooting, with proclamations from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, an invitation to President Joe Biden's State of the Union Address, and more.

"Today [was] about commemorating and celebrating at the same time if we can do that," said Alhambra Mayor Adele Andrade-Stadler. "We can be sad in some ways wheen we look back but we also need to heal and move forward so that things like this don't happen again." 

Hundreds of community members gathered Saturday grateful for a chance to celebrate. Tsay said he saw smiles laughter and just joy.

Many community members told FOX 11 that Saturday's celebration was exactly what they needed both to heal, and to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month.