National News

Man who disarmed Monterey Park shooter surprised with scholarships

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- This AANHPI Heritage Month, ABC News' Good Morning America is honoring the 26-year-old hero who disarmed a mass shooter in California earlier this year during Lunar New Year celebrations.

Brandon Tsay was at his family's dance hall, Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio in Alhambra, California, on the night of Jan. 21 when a man armed with a gun went inside. After what he described as a "struggle," Tsay was able to pull the gun away from the man before he could fire it.

"I realized I needed to get the weapon away from him or else everybody would have died," Tsay told Good Morning America back in January.

The gunman, who had already killed 11 people and injured nine others minutes before in a shooting at another dance studio in nearby Monterey Park, fled and later took his own life as police closed in.

Tsay was recognized for his courage by the White House which honored him in February with an invitation to President Joe Biden's State of the Union address. The White House credited him with "preventing the gunman, who had killed 11 people and injured 10 others, from carrying out a second attack in Alhambra."

Tsay joined GMA Friday and said he, his sister Brenda Tsay and their grandmother have been helping to get Lai Lai Ballroom and their community dancing again.

"The dance community here is like a second home," Tsay said. "Everyone here is my family. And dancing has helped shape our journey and passion in such profound ways."

Tsay also said his newfound fame has helped push him out of his shell and he's now thinking about his goals again, including finishing college, something he put on pause when he was 19 to care for his late mother, who was diagnosed with lung cancer and died in 2017.

"He's always put my mom first, my grandma first, me first ... the ballroom first. Everyone. Everyone first," Brenda Tsay told GMA.

Now, she and their family say it's his turn.

"I would really like for Brandon to finally lead his own life and to follow his dreams, whatever they may be. And I know he's always wanted to continue his education so I hope he has the opportunity to do that," Brenda Tsay said.

To recognize and celebrate all Tsay has done for his community, Gold House, a nonprofit that works with top Asian Americans across different fields, is giving back to him in return.

Gold House teamed up with GMA to surprise Tsay with a $10,000 scholarship to get him started with school and Sallie Mae, an education solutions company, also wanted to celebrate Tsay and is chipping in with another $20,000 scholarship for Tsay's studies.

"I'm so appreciative. It's such an honor to receive this and I'm so glad I'm here today with everybody to share this moment," Tsay said.

"This means so much to me. Honestly, I can't believe that somebody will get out of their way to just help us out," he added.

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