Rafu Wire and Staff Reports
WASHINGTON — Brandon Tsay, who is credited with preventing a second massacre on the night of the Monterey Park shootings, was praised by President Biden during his nationally televised State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
On Jan. 21, Huu Can Tran shot 20 people, 11 of them fatally, at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey. He then went to the Lai Lai Ballroom in nearby Alhambra, where he was confronted by Tsay. After a brief struggle that was captured on surveillance video, Tsay was able to disarm Tran, who fled the scene and was found in Torrance the next day, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Tsay, who had spoken with Biden by phone shortly after the incident, attended the speech as a guest of the president.
Discussing gun violence and gun control, Biden said, “Joining us tonight is Brandon Tsay, a 26-year-old hero. Brandon put off his college dreams to stay by his mom’s side as she was dying from cancer. He now works at a dance studio started by his grandparents.
“Two weeks ago, during Lunar New Year celebrations, he heard the studio’s front door close and saw a man pointing a gun at him. He thought he was going to die, but then he thought about the people inside.
“In that instant, he found the courage to act and wrestled the semi-automatic pistol away from a gunman who had already killed 11 people at another dance studio. He saved lives. It’s time we do the same as well.
“Ban assault weapons once and for all. We did it before. I led the fight to ban them in 1994. In the 10 years the ban was law, mass shootings went down. After Republicans let it expire, mass shootings tripled.
“Let’s finish the job and ban assault weapons again.”
Dr. Juily Phun, a niece of one of the Monterey Park victims and an assistant professor at Cal State Los Angeles, attended the speech as a guest of Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), a three-time mayor of Monterey Park. Phun’s aunt, Muoi Dai Ung, 67, was among those killed.
“I was thrilled to see President Biden’s recognition of Brandon Tsay, the hero from my district who stopped a gunman on the loose who killed 11 people on Lunar New Year’s Eve,” Chu said. “And I could not agree more with the president – Congress needs to find courage and act now to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines. No community in the country should have to experience the trauma Monterey Park is currently dealing with.”
During the day, Chu introduced Phun and Tsay to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, California Attorney General Rob Bonta and other leaders.
“Gun violence threatens every zip code in America. I have been so humbled to join my State of the Union guest Dr. Juily Phun today as she tells Monterey Park’s unique story and communicates how leaders can continue to support the AAPI community heal in our hometown and around the country,” Chu said. “So thankful to her and Brandon Tsay for the contributions to the San Gabriel Valley.”
Monterey Park City Councilmember Henry Lo, who was mayor when the shooting occurred, attended the speech as a guest of Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.).
Padilla said that Americans are “demanding we pass common-sense gun safety bills that can help prevent the next tragedy. It was my honor to have Councilmember Henry Lo, who led his community of Monterey Park through the tragic recent mass shooting as mayor, with me tonight to demand action — so that no mayor, neighbor, or family member ever has to experience the heartbreak of gun violence again.”
“It is urgent that we take federal action to ensure that no other community in America has to mourn lives lost to senseless gun violence,” Lo said. “The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was an important step to protecting our communities, and I thank Sen. Padilla for his continued advocacy at the federal level for common-sense gun safety reforms that will keep our communities safe.”
Tsay, Lo and Phun were also special guests Tuesday morning at a State of the Union reception in Washington honoring Monterey Park, hosted by the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, which is chaired by Chu.