What We Know About The Atlanta Spa Shootings
All across the United States people have come together to show solidarity for Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander communities after the shootings left eight dead, six of whom were Asian women.
People view a makeshift memorial on Friday, March 19, 2021, in Atlanta. Robert Aaron Long, a white man, is accused of killing several people, most of whom were of Asian descent, at massage parlors in the Atlanta area. [AP Photo/Candice Choi]
Family Helped Speed Up the Capture of the Accused Gunman
Shortly after violence erupted at three spas in metro Atlanta on March 16, authorities were able to identify the suspected shooter, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long.
A recently released Georgia State Patrol report showed how law enforcement officials tracked him down so quickly.
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office used video footage from the first shooting at Young’s Asian Massage and posted images of the then-unknown shooter on social media, according to the report.
Family recognized the suspected gunman and identified him for deputies, who then tracked Long and determined his exact location by pinging his cell phone.
Inside the Tense Final Moments Before Long Was Taken into Custody
In the Georgia State Patrol report, Trooper First Class Travis Pollock described how he stopped Long as the suspect drove his black Hyundai Tucson on I-75.
“I did not want a vehicle pursuit to begin where the subject could intentionally harm anyone or get away," Pollock said in the GSP report, according to WXIA-TV.
“The vehicle rotated clockwise and then began rotating back counterclockwise as the subject counter steered,” Pollock said. “To ensure the violator did not recover from the PIT, I used the front of my patrol car to contact the left side of the vehicle when it came back into my path of travel.”
Once stopped, Pollock revealed, Long sat motionless for 30 seconds before he obeyed troopers’ continuous commands for him to show his hands. Authorities allegedly recovered a handgun magazine and knife from the car.
The Accused Gunman’s Church Expelled Him from Its Congregation
On Sunday, March 21, parishioners officially removed Long as a member of the conservative Baptist church in Milton, Georgia, where he worshipped with his parents, The Washington Post reported.
“Our hearts are filled with so many emotions; with grief, with anger, sadness, with emptiness, confusion,” Crabapple First Baptist Church Associate Pastor Luke Folsom said in a prayer during the service, which was dedicated to the eight victims who died in the spree killings.
“There’s so much confusion. It doesn’t make any sense. But, father, we know this is the result of sin,” Folsom continued, adding, “It displays the total corruption of mankind.”
Help for the Victims’ Grieving Families
Following the tragedy, many loved ones of the shooting victims set up online fundraisers to help with funeral expenses and other costs, and the public outpouring of support has been overwhelming.
In a GoFundMe page, Randy Park wrote that his single mother, Hyun Jung Grant, who died at Gold Spa in Atlanta, dedicated her entire life to him and his brother.
Park said on the fundraising page, in part: “She was one of my best friends and the strongest influence on who we are today. Losing her has put a new lens on my eyes on the amount of hate that exists in our world.”
Almost 80,000 people have donated to Grant’s sons, raising nearly $3 million.
“I will live the rest of my days grateful for what has essentially given my family a second chance,” Park wrote in an update. “My mother can rest easy knowing I have the support of the world with me.”
Seven other GoFundMe accounts for victims' loved ones have been verified by NBC, including pages for Sun Cha Kim, Xiaojie Tan, Yong Ae Yue, Paul Andre Michel, Soon Chung Park, and Delaina Ashley Yaun González.
Family and Friends Celebrate the Lives of Those They Lost
Police have identified all eight shooting victims, six of whom were Asian women, and details about who they were and what their lives were like continue to emerge.
Out of respect for one of the victims' families asking for their name not to be shared, we will not be including their name in this article until we are given consent to do so.
Delaina Ashley Yaun González, 33
Last summer, mother of two Yaun González gave birth to a daughter and got married. “Her dreams were finally coming true. Things were falling into place with her,” the victim’s friend, Lisa Marie, told The Washington Post. “It was good to see her happiness.” Her family established a GoFundMe page to cover funeral expenses.
Xiaojie Tan, 49
Tan owned Young’s Asian Massage, the scene of the first shooting. “She did everything for me and for the family,” Ying Tan “Jami” Webb told USA Today of her mother, who died just days before her 50th birthday. “She provided everything. She worked every day, 12 hours a day, so that me and our family would have a better life.”
According to a GoFundMe organized by Tan’s step-sister, “Jami is heartbroken that she will never get to travel with her mom again, but intends to bring her mother's remains home to Nanning as soon as she can travel safely.”
Hyun Jung Grant, 51
Randy Park said his playful and fun mother was young at heart, The New York Times reported. “As long as we were together, she was pretty happy,” he explained, noting, “All I can think about is her.”
Paul Andre Michels, 54
Michels served in the U.S. Army as an infantryman in the 1980s and was working as a handyman at Young’s Asian Massage when he was shot and killed.
“He was a good, hard-working man who would do what he could do to help people,” John Michels said to WSB-TV about his older brother. “He’d loan you money if you needed it sometimes. You never went away from his place hungry.”
A colleague of Michels wife’s organized a GoFundMe on the family’s behalf.
Yong Ae Yue, 63
According to an online obituary, “Yong was of the Buddhist faith. She enjoyed singing karaoke and cooking. Times dearest to Yong’s heart was the moments she spent with her children and grandchildren, nurturing them to be the young men and women they are today.”
Yue’s youngest son established a fundraiser to “assist with managing mother’s affairs for her home, associated costs for our family to travel to her memorial, as well as going towards her memorial service costs and her personal affairs for the immediate future.”
Sun Cha Kim, 69
“She was pure hearted and the most selfless woman I knew,” Hillary Li wrote on GoFundMe about Kim, an immigrant originally from South Korea who her granddaughter called an “angel.” “She represented everything I wanted to be as a woman, without an ounce of hate or bitterness in her heart.”
Soon Chung Park, 74
Park helped manage Gold Spa. “She just liked to work,” her son-in-law Scott Lee said, according to The Washington Post. “It wasn’t for the money. She just wanted a little bit of work for her life.”
He added: “She was very healthy. Everybody said she was going to live past 100 years old.”
Park had been preparing to move back to be with family in the New York area after time spent living in Atlanta near friends.
Park’s husband created a GoFundMe to help pay for expenses while he continues to grieve the heartbreaking loss.