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Brandon Tsay, the hero who disarmed the Monterey Park shooting suspect, honored with medal of courage

<i>Richard Vogel/AP</i><br/>Brandon Tsay (left) was given a standing ovation during a ceremony to honor him on January 29.
Richard Vogel/AP
Brandon Tsay (left) was given a standing ovation during a ceremony to honor him on January 29.

By Tina Burnside and Sarah Moon, CNN

The City of Alhambra honored the man who has been hailed a hero for disarming the Monterey Park shooting suspect at a second dance studio during Lunar New Year celebrations last weekend.

Brandon Tsay, 26, was awarded a medal of courage from the Alhambra Police Department during a ceremony Sunday.

Tsay can be seen in surveillance video wrestling a firearm from the shooting suspect, Huu Can Tran, at a dance studio in Alhambra. Authorities say Tran had opened fire earlier at a Lunar New Year celebration at another dance studio in nearby Monterey Park, killing 11 people and injuring 10 others.

“The carnage would have been so much worse had it not been for Brandon Tsay,” California Representative Judy Chu said during the award ceremony. There was a visible law enforcement presence at Sunday’s event, held during the city’s own Lunar New Year Festival.

Tsay was surrounded by police officers when he came on stage to accept his award, where he was joined by his family. He received a standing ovation and some attendees had posters and signs bearing his name. One sign at the community event read: “Brandon Tsay is our hero.”

Tsay was working the ticket office at the Alhambra dance studio when the armed man entered and pointed a firearm at him, Tsay told CNN last week. He lunged at Tran and struggled with him for about 40 seconds, he said. Tran hit him several times on the face, the back of his head and on his back and hands, Tsay said, before he was able to wrench the gun away from Tran.

During the struggle, Tsay said he thought to himself, “If I let go of this gun, what would happen to me, the people around me, my friends, my family?”

Chu, who presented Tsay with a certificate of congressional recognition, said Tsay’s story “was so amazing” that she called him to be her guest at President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on February 7. But just one hour after Chu spoke with him, Biden called Tsay to personally invite him to be his guest, Chu said.

Biden called Tsay last week to thank him for his act of bravery.

“I wanted to call to see how you’re doing and thank you for taking such incredible action in the face of danger,” Biden told Tsay. “I don’t think you understand just how much you’ve done for so many people who are never going to even know you. But I want them to know more about you.

“You have my respect,” the President said. “You are America, pal. You are who we are — no, no, you are who we are. America’s never backed down, we’ve always stepped up, because of people like you.”

Chu called the President’s invitation a tremendous honor. “All the eyes of the nation will be on that address,” Chu said.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Sarah Moon reported from Alhambra. Tina Burnside wrote from Atlanta.

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