8 People Killed in Atlanta Area Spa Shootings, 6 of Them Asian Women


Emily Kim, Staff Writer

On March 16th, a gunman murdered eight people at several Asian-run massage spas in Atlanta. Seven of the eight victims were women. Six people were of Asian descent, and two were white. The suspected murderer, Robert Aaron Long, was charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.

The attacks began around 5 p.m. at Young’s Asian Massage Parlor in a strip mall near a rural area in Ackworth. Two people died at the scene, and three were transported to a hospital where two of them also died. One person was seriously injured.

Around 5:50 p.m., Atlanta police responded to another shooting at Gold Spa, where they found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds. While at the scene, the police received a report of shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, where the body of another woman was found.

The suspect, Robert Aaron Long, 21, was captured in a surveillance video pulling up to the spa in Ackworth minutes before the attack. Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Jay Baker said that Long was taken into custody in Crisp County at approximately 8:00 p.m. The police believe that he was also responsible for the shootings in Atlanta.

The authorities have identified the victims of the attacks as Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; Yong Ae Yue, 63; Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Xiaojie Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; and Paul Andre Michels, 54. Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, was shot and injured.

Long told the authorities that he had struggled with a “sexual addiction” and had carried out the shootings at the massage parlors to rid himself of “temptation.” The deputy, Capt. Jay Baker, will no longer serve as his agency’s spokesman for the investigation into the attack after he drew criticism for reducing the shooting to the perpetrator having a “really bad day.” 

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta said that regardless of the motives behind the attack, the tragedy was clear. “Whatever the motivation was for this guy, we know that the majority of the victims were Asian,” Bottoms said. “We also know that this is an issue that is happening across the country. It is unacceptable, it is hateful and it has to stop.”

The shootings came amid a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans. The suspect’s motives are under investigation, but the events have stirred considerable outrage and fear among those in the Asian American Pacific Islander community. Evidence suggests that the past year’s surge of hate crimes has been

driven by the racist reaction to the coronavirus pandemic. Former President Trump’s repeated use of the term “China virus” has appeared to have strengthened the relation of Asians and disease in the minds of his followers. 

Although the pandemic has highlighted the rise of anti-Asian violence around the world, in reality, it is part of a long history of discrimination and stereotyping against the community. “History shows us that minorities don’t tend to fare well during pandemics,” said Tim Soutphommasane, Australia’s former discrimination commissioner. “Minorities can be made easy scapegoats. And pandemics can unleash underlying hostility that exists towards some groups.” 

The pandemic is one facet of the global increase in anti-Asian hate crimes, and for many, the events in Atlanta are a reminder of the painful reality of the rising anti-Asian violence around the world. 


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    • GoFundMe: In memory of Hyun Jung Kim to support her two sons
    • GoFundMe: In loving memory of Suncha Kim
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