Wave Wire Services
ALHAMBRA — The man credited with saving an unknown number lives by wrestling a gun away from a mass murderer at an Alhambra dance studio Jan. 21 was honored Jan. 29 at the city of Alhambra’s Lunar New Year festival.
Brandon Tsay, 26, was given a “medal of courage” from the Alhambra Police Department and other honors during a ceremony on the festival’s main stage.
Tsay confronted 72-year-old gunman Huu Can Tran when Tran walked into the Lai Lai Ballroom and Studio in Alhambra on the night of Jan. 21.
Unbeknownst to Tsay at the time, Tran had just shot 20 people — 11 fatally — at a dance studio in Monterey Park less than 20 minutes earlier.
Tsay attacked the gunman and wrestled away his weapon in a struggle captured on surveillance video that has gone viral. After being disarmed, the gunman fled.
Tsay has been hailed as a hero by state and local officials, even receiving a phone call Jan. 26 from President Joe Biden, who thanked him for “taking such incredible action.”
Biden posted a video and audio of the call with Brandon Tsay on his Twitter account.
“I wanted to call to see how you’re doing and thank you for taking such incredible action in the face of danger. I don’t think you understand just how much you’ve done for so many people who are never even going to know you,” Biden told Tsay. “But I want them to know more about you.”
Tsay repeatedly thanked Biden for the phone call, saying, “For you to call, that’s just too comforting to me.”
He later added, “I appreciate your words of kindness. Thank you, President Biden.”
Biden told Tsay, “You have my respect. You are America, pal. You are who we are.
“America’s never backed down. We’ve always stepped up, because of people like you.”
Tsay, whose family runs the Lai Lai studio, told “Good Morning America” Jan. 23 that the gunman was “looking around the room” as if he was “looking for targets.”
“He started prepping the weapon and something came over me,” Tsay said. “I realized I needed to get the weapon away from him. I needed to take this weapon, disarm him or else everybody would have died.
“When I got the courage, I lunged at him with both my hands, grabbed the weapon and we had a struggle. We struggled into the lobby, trying to get this gun away from each other. He was hitting me across the face, bashing the back of my head.”
Tsay said he used his elbows to try to dislodge the gun from the man’s hands, and eventually after a life-or-death struggle, he managed to grab the weapon and point it at the man. He said he yelled at the man to “get the hell out of here,” threatening to shoot.
“I thought he would run away, but he was just standing there contemplating whether to fight or to run,” Tsay said. “I really thought I would have to shoot him and he came at me. This is when he turned around and walked out the door, jogged back to his van. I immediately called police with the gun still in my hand.”
Tsay said he did not recognize the gunman. He was left shaken by the violent encounter.
“I was shaking all night. I couldn’t believe what happened,” he told ABC. “A lot of people have been telling me how much courage I had to confront a situation like this. But you know what courage is? Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the ability to have adversity to fear when fearful events happen such as this.”