The sniper shooting this week in the Atlanta, Georgia area has sparked a new wave of fear and revolt among Asian Americans, as six of the eight victims were Asian women. – this in a year of anti-Asian violence across the country. .
The suspect charged Wednesday (17) for the deaths at three different locations told detectives he had frequented massage parlors in the past and launched his attacks to end the temptations.
Investigators said they had not yet ruled out a racist motive, although the suspect, a 21-year-old white man living in a suburb of Atlanta, denied that he was touched by that prejudice. He told police he had a ‘sexual coercion’ and viewed massage parlors as places that allowed him to ‘do something he shouldn’t do,’ said Captain Jay Baker of Cherokee County.
“He was trying to eliminate that temptation,” Baker said. All but one of the victims were women.
Democratic Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland of Washington said in a plenary session of Congress on Wednesday: “Racially motivated violence must be described as such. We need to stop looking for excuses and reclassifying them as economic anxiety or sexual compulsion. As a black and Korean woman, I am well aware of what it feels like to be suppressed or ignored ”.
In Washington, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman and the first Asian American to hold the post, spoke separately about the massacre. Biden stressed that the motivation for the crimes has not yet been determined, but referred to the “brutalities committed against Asian Americans in recent months”, which he called “very, very worrying.”
Officials and advocates have seen an increase in crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic. Some have blamed the words of former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly referred to the coronavirus, initially identified in China, as “the Chinese virus”.
On Wednesday afternoon, the suspect, Robert Aaron Long, was charged with eight counts of murder.
Authorities said the massacre began just before 5 p.m. Tuesday at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Georgia, a culturally diverse community about 30 miles northwest of Atlanta. Next to the massage parlor, Martha Enciso and her colleagues at the Perfecto beauty salon were working to the sound of music being sung in Spanish when they heard what sounded like someone pounding the walls. Enciso said they aren’t giving much importance at the moment.
“Who could have imagined what was going on there?”
Next, four people were found shot dead at Young’s Asian Massage. Police identified the victims as Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, Paul Andre Michels, 54, Xiaojie Tan, 49, and Daoyou Feng, 44.
Guatemalan immigrant Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, who passed the massage parlor on his way to a nearby exchange office, was also seriously injured by gunshot. According to his wife, Flor Gonzalez, doctors told her that her husband suffered injuries to his forehead, throat, lungs and stomach. “He’s still alive,” she said, “He’s struggling to survive. But the doctors told me that his recovery would take a long time.
Within an hour of the Acworth shooting, the shooting continued across a stretch of strip clubs and massage parlors in a gentrified neighborhood in northeast Atlanta.
Police call tapes reveal that at 5:47 p.m., the Atlanta Police Department received a call from a woman who, in a whisper, said there had been a theft at the Gold Spa and that a “white man” was armed at the scene. .
The woman said she was in hiding and did not know if anyone was injured. Police arrived shortly after at the site, which has a decrepit beige facade and neon sign, and found three women shot dead.
Ten minutes after that call, another woman called the police to tell them that a friend at the aromatherapy spa across the street told her that a man had arrived at the scene with a gun in his hand. hand.
“Everyone heard the gunshot and a woman was injured, I think. Everyone is afraid, is hiding, ”said the woman. Police found another victim at the scene.
When this happened, authorities had already seen a man getting into a black Hyundai Tucson in the surveillance footage for Young’s Asian Massage. Police officers posted footage of the video to social media, and two hours later, Long’s parents contacted the police department and identified the man as their son. “They are very nervous,” Sheriff Frank Reynolds said. But “they were very helpful in helping us stop it.”
Just over two hours after the first shoot, Long’s car was seen heading south on the freeway in Crisp County, 240 miles south of Atlanta. Long would later tell authorities that he was traveling to Florida to commit similar violence against “a certain type of porn industry,” Baker said. Authorities said he was found with a 9mm caliber pistol.
On Wednesday morning, amid crime scenes in commercial districts of Cherokee County and northeast Atlanta, people returned to work in a climate of fear.
“We have no other choice,” said Enciso, 46, returning to work at the beauty salon next to Young’s Asian Massage. “Life doesn’t stop. We arrived here in a climate of fear. Imagine, we are Hispanic. There are also those who hate us.
Far beyond the Atlanta area, Asian-American leaders were trying to recover from the massacre. “A lot of people are even afraid to leave their homes now,” commented Max Leung, founder of an organization called the SF Peace Collective, which patrols the streets of San Francisco to protect Asian communities from violence. “They are afraid to go out on the streets.”