June 23, 2021

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Atlanta shootings: A victim of the spa attacks was a South Korean citizen, official says

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The other three are believed to be Americans of Korean ethnicity, Kwangsuk Lee, the Deputy Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Atlanta told CNN on Friday.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry decided not to disclose further information about the victims, including their names, “to protect the privacy of the victims and to respect requests from the family members,” Lee said. The South Korean Consulate in Atlanta received information about the four victims of Korean descent from Atlanta police on Friday, he said.

Some officials have called for hate crime charges against the suspect, who authorities have said may have been traveling to perpetrate more attacks when he was arrested.

The shocking violence adds to the fear many Asians in the US are feeling as anti-Asian hate crimes have more than doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry has called for an investigation into the case to be conducted as soon as possible. The Ministry plans to provide any necessary support for the funeral process.

In Cherokee County, the suspect faces four counts of murder with malice, one count of attempted murder, one count of aggravated assault and five counts of using a firearm while committing a felony. He also has been charged with four counts of murder in connection with the two spa shootings in Atlanta, police there said.

The suspect, arrested Tuesday night in a traffic stop 150 miles south of Atlanta, told police he believed he had a sex addiction and that he saw the spas as “a temptation … that he wanted to eliminate,” said Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.
“Sex” is a hate crime category under Georgia law. If the suspect was targeting women out of hatred for them or scapegoating them for his own problems, it could potentially be a hate crime.

Officials condemn rising anti-Asian hate crimes

Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant has said it is still too early to know the suspect’s motive, and Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace said the investigation is ongoing and appropriate charges will be brought.

But retired FBI supervisory special sgent Jim Clemente told CNN’s Erin Burnett that the level of planning seen in his actions shows that the suspect was motivated by more than just a “bad day.”

“His actions show that he targeted a particular type of person on this particular day, and not only did he do it at one location, but he went to a second and a third location,” Clemente said.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris visited Atlanta on Friday and condemned the shootings and the rising number of hate crimes against Asian Americans.
Speaking out against hate crimes, Biden tries to restore moral clarity to the presidency
During Biden and Harris’s visit, community leaders talked with the President and vice president for more than an hour about their concerns about crimes against Asians and other issues, Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen told CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront.”

While in Atlanta, Biden and Harris did not explicitly state that they considered the shootings a hate crime. But they noted that whatever the shooter’s motivation, the killings come as hate crimes are rising against Asian Americans.

“The conversation we had today with the (Asian American and Pacific Islander) leaders, and that we’re hearing all across the country, is that hate and violence often hide in plain sight. It’s often met with silence,” Biden said. “That’s been true throughout our history, but that has to change because our silence is complicity.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth told CNN’s Anderson Cooper she was not surprised by the attack that killed so many Asian women.

“We have been marching toward more and more violent hate crimes against AAPIs in this last year,” Duckworth said.

Members of the Atlanta Korean American Committee Against Asian Hate Crime hold a remembrance vigil at the scene of two of the massage parlor shootings in Atlanta.

Victims leave behind families: ‘She was one of my best friends’

The names of all eight people slain have been released.

Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, of Acworth; Paul Andre Michels, 54, of Atlanta; Xiaojie Tan, 49, of Kennesaw; and Daoyou Feng, 44, were fatally shot at Youngs Asian Massage in Cherokee County.

Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, of Acworth, was also shot at Youngs Asian Massage but survived.

About 30 miles away and within an hour of the first shooting, four Asian women were killed in Atlanta — three at the Gold Massage Spa, and one at the Aroma Therapy Spa across the street, authorities said.

The four Atlanta victims were: Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong Ae Yue, 63, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Of those four, three died of gunshot wounds to the head, and one died of a gunshot wound to the chest, the medical examiner’s office said.

A trip to the spa that ended in death. These are some of the victims of the Atlanta-area shootings
Grant was a “single mother who dedicated her whole life to providing for my brother and I,” her son Randy Park wrote on a GoFundMe page.

“She was one of my best friends and the strongest influence on who we are today,” Park wrote.

The GoFundMe page, set up for Grant’s two sons, had raised more than $2 million from more than 50,000 donors as of Saturday morning. GoFundMe told CNN the page is verified; Park did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

The page says the donated money will pay for food, rent and other monthly bills. It says the brothers now only have each other in the US, with every other relative in South Korea.

“Losing her has put a new lens on my eyes on the amount of hate that exists in our world,” Park wrote.

Yaun’s husband, Mario Gonzalez, told the Mundo Hispanico newspaper that he and his wife were at the spa to get massages, and she was in a separate room when the shooting started.

“About an hour in … I heard the shots. I didn’t see anything, only I started to think it was in the room where my wife was,” he told the newspaper.

“(The shooter) took the most valuable thing I had in my life,” Gonzalez said. “He left me with only pain.”

CNN’s Jason Hanna, Gregory Lemos, Audrey Ash, Nicole Chavez, Gisela Crespo, Nicquel Ellis, Jamiel Lynch, Paul P. Murphy, Raja Razek, Casey Tolan, Amir Vera, Amanda Watts and Holly Yan contributed to this report.

2021-03-20 05:12:07

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