ATLANTA – All eight people killed Tuesday have been identified in the string of attacks at three Atlanta-area spas that left mostly women of Asian descent dead.
Authorities on Friday identified the four victims at the two spas in Atlanta. They are: Soon C. Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, and Yong A. Yue, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office.
The medical examiner said Park, Grant and Yue died of gunshot wounds to the head while Kim died of gunshot wounds to the chest.
Meanwhile, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday released the names of the four victims at the spa there, about 30 miles north of Atlanta. Those killed at Young’s Asian Massage were Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng. A 30-year-old Hispanic man was injured.
Six of the women were of Asian descent, including four who were Korean.
The suspect is in custody and police said Thursday he frequented the two spas in Atlanta: Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa. While police said the shooter told authorities he was not motivated by race, rather a sex addiction, experts have said the killings are inextricably connected to racism and hate.
The shooting comes amid a recent spike in incidents of hate, discrimination and violence against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, fueled by racist rhetoric by politicians including former President Donald Trump, said Stop AAPI Hate, a group that tracks such incidents.
Who gets to decide what is racism, hate? Atlanta shootings renew debate over white violence, privilege
Here’s what we know about those killed.
Hyun Jung Grant
Hyun Jung Grant, 51, loved karaoke, dancing and clubs, and she made the world’s best kimchi stew, her son Randy Park told USA TODAY.
“She dedicated her whole life to raising us, but even then she found time to enjoy herself with her friends,” Park, 22, said. “I can’t articulate or express in any way to describe what she was or what she meant to us. I could say whatever word that comes to my head for her, but it doesn’t encompass a fraction of what she meant to us.”
Park said he learned only recently that his mom worked in a massage parlor – she initially said it was a makeup parlor in an effort to protect her two boys. The suspect told police his sex addiction drove him to commit the crimes and Atlanta authorities confirmed the man had “frequented” the spas
Park said he understands why she wasn’t forthcoming and said he feels selfish and guilty for ever invading her privacy by asking about it. He said they never talked about her work, which sometimes kept her away from home for weeks at a time.
“What’s so hard about letting people live how they want? If it does no harm to you, who is it harming then?” he asked.
Business owner, Army veteran, woman on a date:More on the victims of the deadly rampage through 3 spas in Georgia
Xiaojie Tan, 49, who owned Young’s Asian Spa and one other in Acworth, Georgia, also went by her American name Emily. She was remembered as a curious, hard-working and caring woman who was always filled with joy.
“She did everything for me and for the family. She provided everything. She worked every day, 12 hours a day, so that me and our family would have a better life,” Tan’s daughter, Jami Webb, told USA TODAY.
“She was full of smiles and laughter. She was just a pleasure to be around,” said Michael Webb, Jami’s father who first met Tan while traveling for work in China in the early 2000s.
Tan was the youngest of two girls, born to a bicycle mechanic dad and mom who were Catholics in the Communist country.
Michael Webb and Tan met in her natal city of Nanning, which sits on the border with Vietnam. Neither spoke the other’s language well, but that didn’t stop the pair from falling in love.
In China, it is customary to put the family name before the given name. Tan’s name in Chinese translates to Tan Xiao Jie. However, because Western countries use the surname last, her legal name in the United States is Xiaojie Tan.
Xiaojie Tan dreamed of traveling the world and celebrating her 50th birthday with her daughter. Then the Atlanta shooter ended her life.
Delaina Ashley Yaun
Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, leaves behind a 13-year-old son and 8-month-old daughter. She and her husband have been married less than a year.
Her mother, Margaret Rushing, told WAGA-TV that her daughter and son-in-law went to the spa on a date. When the gunfire broke out, Yaun’s husband locked himself in a room and wasn’t injured, said Yaun’s half-sister, Dana Toole.
“He’s taking it hard,” Toole said. “He was there. He heard the gunshots and everything. You can’t escape that when you’re in a room and gunshots are flying – what do you do?”
“We could really use the help to cover her funeral expenses,” loved ones say on a GoFundMe page. “She has two beautiful babies she is leaving behind. We just don’t know how to do any of this alone. If you can find it in your heart to donate, our Family will certainly appreciate all of your support.”
Yaun’s husband, Mario González, told MundoHispánico, a Spanish publication, they were getting massages in two separate rooms when the gunfire erupted.
He said he hid in the room and when police came he asked repeatedly if his wife was OK. He was detained and questioned with other witnesses and did not learn until later that his wife was one of the eight victims.
“What am I going to do?” González said, adding that this shooting has left their 8-month-old infant without a mother. “I have nothing.”
Paul Andre Michels
Paul Michels, 54, owned an alarm company in Atlanta, where he and his wife, Bonnie, have lived 26 years, his brother John said. Paul Michels had expressed interest in owning a spa.
John Michels says his brother was “just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” They grew up with nine siblings in Detroit, riding dirt bikes and spending summer weekends at a lake and getting into mischief together, he said. They both served in the U.S. Army at the same time, and his brother was an infantryman in the late 1980s.
“I’m the closest in age, so we were basically like twins,” said John, 52. “We did everything together growing up.”
Elcias Hernandez Ortiz
Elcias Hernandez Ortiz, 30, survived the shooting and is hospitalized in intensive care. He has been intubated and set to have surgery as early as next week to remove the bullet in his abdomen, his wife, Flor Gonzalez, told USA TODAY. She set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for medical costs, where she wrote he was shot in the forehead, lungs and stomach.
Flor Gonzalez told USA TODAY that her husband was on the way to a business next door to the spa where he sends money to family back home. He called her as the shooting was unfolding.
“They shot me, they shot me, come help me please,” she said Hernandez-Ortiz begged. Those were the last words Gonzalez has been able to hear from him, she said, on the verge of tears.
The couple are originally from San Marcos, Guatemala, an impoverished municipality in the Central American country’s rugged mountains. Hernandez-Ortiz came to the United States almost a decade ago. His wife and their 9-year-old daughter joined him in Georgia in 2015.
She said the family depends on Hernandez-Ortiz’s work to survive.
“There are so many people that depend on him,” Gonzalez said. “I know he is strong and will come out of this for all of us.”
Little has been revealed about Daoyou Feng, 44, Soon C. Park, 74, or Suncha Kim, 69.
Contributing: Dennis Wagner, John Bacon and Cara Kelly