Man who disarmed suspected Monterey Park shooter invited to SOTU address

Brandon Tsay honored as a hero at Alhambra Lunar New Year fest

A mourner takes a photo of candles during a candlelight vigil at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio In Monterey Park.

An invitation to attend Tuesday’s State of the Union address is the latest honor for Brandon Tsay, the 26-year-old dance studio manager who disarmed the alleged Monterey Park mass shooter last month. Tsay was invited to attend as the guest of President Biden.

That’s according to Rep.  Judy Chu, who represents Monterey Park and spoke at the Alhambra Lunar New Year festival about one week ago. 

Tsay received a medal of courage from the Alhambra Police Department at the event and was honored by city, county, and state officials, including  Chu.

“I want to thank the city of Alhambra for this great honor. I also want to show appreciation to my family, my friends, and the local community. I don’t know where I’ll be without them. The situation still feels so surreal to me,” Tsay said. I realize that life is fragile. I feel that we as a community should spend our precious time reaching out to one another. Most of the victims, I knew personally. They would always come by the dance studio and I considered them friends. They were some of the most caring people I’ve ever met and for them to be taken from us is such an excruciating experience.”

Tsay said the victims’ families remain top of mind.

I wish for all the victims’’ families to be able to heal. I pray for them to be able to find joy again. The start of the new year has been extremely difficult, but we have the rest of the year to spread compassion and build back our community,” Tsay said.  

Tsay, whose family owns the Lai Lai Ballroom in Alhambra, stopped the gunman just moments after he killed 11 people in Monterey Park’s Star Dance Studio on the night of Jan. 21, located approximately three miles from each other. 

The dance studio where the shooting took place is very close to the hearts of many Monterey Park residents.

Despite the tragedy in Monterey Park and what could have happened in their own city, Alhambra residents and festival goers came out to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Alhambra, which has been celebrated in the city for 30 years. 

Food trucks and vendors filled up a few blocks of Main Street. There was laughter, chatter, and a heavy amount of security. A helicopter circled the area and every block had police officers on it. Among the festival’s vendors was the FBI, which had an information booth at the event.

“We were actually scheduled to be a part of this festival before the Monterey shooting ever happened. From back in, I believe November, we had already reached out to the city of Monterey and the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce to participate in the Lunar New Year Festivals because we had never been to these festivals before and we really wanted to show support for the Asian American community and celebrate Lunar New Year together. So it’s pretty crazy timing that the Monterey shooting happened last weekend because that definitely did impact us doubling our desire to be here and support the community both for community outreach purposes, but also in case anything happens, god forbid, that we are here. We did coordinate a lot with Alhambra P.D. before coming here to make sure that we’re all on the same page in case something goes down,” said an FBI’s Community Outreach Officer, Candayce Ha.

Daniel Campos contributed to this story.

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