Brandon Tsay’s State of the Union second

Brandon Tsay, the 26-year-old who made worldwide headlines for disarming the Monterey Park gunman final month, stood and waved to the group of lawmakers as President Biden labeled him a “hero” and known as for brand spanking new gun management measures in Tuesday evening’s State of the Union handle.

“He thought he was going to die, but then he thought about the people inside,” Biden mentioned as Tsay gained a uncommon 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 protracted day. The official hero therapy in Washington, together with a fried shrimp reception with lofty speeches, was admittedly overwhelming for him. He remains to be processing his feelings just some weeks after the mass taking pictures.

Weeks in the past, he was identified solely to his household and pals. But on Tuesday evening, Tsay, carrying a black scarf and darkish swimsuit, was sitting within 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 consolation him as Biden spoke about him.

As he was ushered between conferences and receptions with members of Congress and different dignitaries on the White House and Capitol Hill and eventually to the House chamber on Tuesday, Tsay was requested greater than as soon as to relive the trauma that introduced him right here.

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At one reception, in a banquet corridor within the Rayburn House Office Building, he mustered a half-smile and infrequently fidgeted in a nook as lawmakers took turns extolling his bravery. Rep. Judy Chu, who had initially invited Tsay to the State of the Union earlier than Biden jumped in, known as him a “hero” whereas introducing him to a gaggle of colleagues earlier than reminding herself that he doesn’t like to make use of that phrase.

Juily Phun, whose aunt was considered one of 11 folks killed within the taking pictures and attended the State of the Union handle as Chu’s visitor, spoke on 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 mentioned on 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 flip — after a stream of politicians with ready notes who thanked each other and promised legislative motion on gun violence — he spoke haltingly and briefly, thanking Chu, a Democrat who represents Monterey Park, for her help to the neighborhood that suffered 11 deaths and 9 accidents within the mass taking pictures.

“I’m humbled and touched,” Tsay mentioned. “Sorry, I didn’t prepare anything.”

Chu pressed him to say extra, strolling him via the lethal Lunar New Year celebration and asking how he summoned the braveness to confront the attacker at his household’s Lai Lai Ballroom & Studio.

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“That night was truly horrific and it still haunts me today, thinking about it,” he mentioned. “But what led me to confront the shooter was instinct and my character, how I was raised, and my feelings towards members of my own community.”

Brandon Tsay, left, meets Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) and Rep. Norma Torres (D-Pomona) at a Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus occasion on Feb. 7, 2023, in Washington.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

The few dozen congressional staffers and activists within the room had already been provided tissues as they listened to Phun recount the influence on her household and problem the nation to “truly see us.” Some dabbed their faces once more or held arms as Tsay talked in regards to the worry he had as he grabbed the gunman’s weapon. He additionally spoke of the non-public toll, volunteering that he had “gathered the strength to seek some emotional and therapeutic treatment.”

Rep. Norma Torres, a Pomona Democrat, used the phrase “heartbreaking” as she walked away from assembly Tsay.

“He’s not used to being in the limelight,” she mentioned. But ultimately, there will likely be a breaking level, when he realizes what he did “and the reason why so many of us want to talk to him.” Tsay advised her he’s near that time now, as Torres promised all his new pals in Washington would stay supportive, Torres recounted.

“The fact that he was able to meet the president, he was excited about that,” Torres mentioned. “But he knows at some point, he’s gonna have to think about all of it, right?”

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Rep. Ted Lieu, a Torrance Democrat, mentioned he additionally felt blended feelings. He deeply admires Tsay, he mentioned, however in a approach “I wish he wasn’t here.”

“I wish that whole incident didn’t happen. And I think it’s just tragic that so many people died or were injured in that mass shooting,” he mentioned. “I’m glad he did when he did, but I think it’s weird to sort of celebrate the action in the context of so much pain.”

Tsay’s humility and vulnerability are among the many causes folks have been drawn to him. He has promised to seek out methods to make use of his consideration and the cash folks have given to him to assist his neighborhood, whereas acknowledging it’s overwhelming. Chu mentioned he’s nonetheless in shock however accepting the brand new accountability that has been thrust on him.

Tsay is defining a “new, nontoxic masculinity,” mentioned Carol Hay, a thinker at University of Massachusetts Lowell and creator of “Think Like a Feminist.” She has written about males who stand up when wanted with out pumping their chests.

People look toward one side.

Brandon Tsay on the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus occasion.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

“He’s not gloating in the celebrity. He’s not glorifying the violence; he’s using the celebrity to help his community,” Hay mentioned.

The solely time Tsay drew fun throughout his public feedback Tuesday was when Chu requested him whether or not he had any martial arts coaching. “No prior training, but I did take some Shaolin kung fu classes,” he mentioned.

Toward the top of his time on the reception, Chu requested Tsay whether or not he had a message for the American folks.

“You might not know this, but there’s actually courage in all of us,” Tsay mentioned. “And that courage may come to you at any moment.”

Then, he walked to the aspect of the room.

Staff writers Nolan McCaskill and Noah Goldberg contributed to this report.