Current News



Brandon Tsay, still grieving, gets the 'hero' treatment in Washington

Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — Brandon Tsay, the 26-year-old who made worldwide headlines for disarming the Monterey Park gunman last month, stood and waved to the crowd of lawmakers as President Joe Biden labeled him a “hero” and called for new gun control measures in Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

“He thought he was going to die, but then he thought about the people inside,” Biden said as Tsay won a rare bipartisan ovation. “In that instant, he found the courage to act and wrestled the semiautomatic pistol away from a gunman who had already killed 11 people at another dance studio.”

“He saved lives,” Biden added. “It’s time we do the same. Ban assault weapons once and for all.”

Tsay had endured a long day. The official hero treatment in Washington, including a fried shrimp reception with lofty speeches, was admittedly overwhelming for him. He is still processing his emotions just a few weeks after the mass shooting.

Weeks ago, he was known only to his family and friends. But on Tuesday night, Tsay, wearing a black scarf and dark suit, was sitting in the House gallery, chatting with First Lady Jill Biden, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and U2 singer Bono, who later put his arm on Tsay’s shoulder to comfort him as Biden spoke about him.

As he was ushered between meetings and receptions with members of Congress and other dignitaries at the White House and Capitol Hill and finally to the House chamber on Tuesday, Tsay was asked more than once to relive the trauma that brought him here.


At one reception, in a banquet hall in the Rayburn House Office Building, he mustered a half-smile and occasionally fidgeted in a corner as lawmakers took turns extolling his bravery. Rep. Judy Chu, who had originally invited Tsay to the State of the Union before Biden jumped in, called him a “hero” while introducing him to a group of colleagues before reminding herself that he doesn’t like to use that word.

Juily Phun, whose aunt was one of 11 people killed in the shooting and attended the State of the Union address as Chu’s guest, spoke at the reception of how “this feeling of feeling honored is battling with my other emotions.”

“It feels bittersweet to represent my family and my community here,” Phun said at the reception with Tsay, hosted by members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “In this moment, it’s a personal tragedy. But it’s also one in which I’m one of the few people in my family that does not need a translator.”

When Tsay took his turn — after a stream of politicians with prepared notes who thanked one another and promised legislative action on gun violence — he spoke haltingly and briefly, thanking Chu, a Democrat who represents Monterey Park, for her support to the community that suffered 11 deaths and nine injuries in the mass shooting.


swipe to next page

©2023 Los Angeles Times. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus