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A man who prevented a second attack in Monterey Park is honored as a hero

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Officials in Alhambra, Calif., are praising a man for his heroism. They say that 26-year-old Brandon Tsay prevented a gunman who had killed 11 people and injured 10 in nearby Monterey Park a little over a week ago from carrying out a second attack in their town. Tsay was honored yesterday at a Lunar New Year event. NPR's Emma Bowman reports.

EMMA BOWMAN, BYLINE: A couple hundred people packed under a tent on the rainy afternoon. They were there to watch local leaders recognize Tsay on stage, where the Alhambra police chief presented him with a medal of courage.

UNIDENTIFIED PEOPLE: (Chanting) Brandon. Brandon. Brandon. Brandon.

BRANDON TSAY: Bear with me for a moment. I'm quite new to this. I want to thank the city of Alhambra for this great honor.

BOWMAN: The event happened just around the corner from the Lai Lai Ballroom Studio where Tsay had wrested an assault-style handgun out of the hands of the mass shooter. Tsay thanked his family and community for their support. Their encouragement, Tsay says, has given him the space to reflect.

TSAY: I realized that life is fragile. I feel that we as a community should spend our precious time reaching out to one another.

BOWMAN: Becki Peng, a 41-year-old Alhambra resident in the crowd, held up a sign that read, Brandon Tsay is our hero.

BECKI PENG: I live a few minutes from here. I had to be here. As soon as I saw Brandon was going to be on the list, I wanted to see him. He's a real superhero, a real Asian superhero.

BOWMAN: But Tsay wants to refocus the attention on the Monterey Park victims, most of whom he said he knew personally and considered them friends.

TSAY: They were some of the most caring people I have ever met, and for them to be taken from us is such an excruciating experience. I wish for all the victims' families to be able to heal. I pray for them to be able to find joy again.

BOWMAN: But he also wants the public to do what they can to make sure there are no more lives lost to gun violence.

TSAY: I want everyone to take the time to grieve, to mourn, to recover. But after, I want us, the people of this nation, to take action.

BOWMAN: Tsay says his moment in the spotlight has been surreal, and it's far from dimming. He'll be attending the State of the Union next week as President Biden's guest of honor.

Emma Bowman, NPR News, in Alhambra. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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