Atlanta: Tribute to victims on anniversary of spa shooting

More than 150 people gathered to remember the victims of the mass shooting at several Atlanta-area massage businesses that happened nearly a year ago

ATLANTA — Nearly a year after eight people were killed in a mass shooting at three Atlanta-area spas, many of them Asian women, community members gathered Saturday to remember of the victims during a memorial tribute.

More than 150 people gathered in a park to listen to family members of the victims and members of Atlanta’s Asian American community speak about the shooting and its impact on their lives, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Robert Peterson, whose mother, Yong Ae Yue, was killed in one of the shootings, addressed those who showed up at the Atlanta tribute in freezing late winter weather.

“I miss his food. I miss her waiting by the door when we arrived. I miss all those little things we took for granted when she was here,” Peterson said, according to the newspaper account.

Family members of other victims wrote letters about the effect the shooting had on their families and their lives.

The shooting galvanized the city’s Asian American community when it emerged that six of the eight victims were Asian women.

Those killed were: Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44 years old; and Delaina Yaun, 33; and Paul Michels, 54; Suncha Kim, 69; Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; and Yong Ae Yue, 63.

On March 16, Robert Aaron Long, then 21, opened fire at Youngs Asian Massage in Cherokee County, killing four people – including three women and two of Asian descent – ​​at Youngs Asian Massage in the county. of Cherokee, police said. Authorities said a fifth person was shot and injured.

Long then traveled to Atlanta, where he shot and killed three women at the Gold Spa before crossing the street to the aromatherapy spa and killing another woman, authorities say. All of the Atlanta victims were of Asian descent.

Authorities said at the time that Long claimed his actions were not racially motivated and were instead driven by “sex addiction,” which sparked outrage and skepticism within the Asian American community. .

Last July, Long pleaded guilty to murder and other charges for those he killed in Cherokee County and was sentenced to life without parole.

Long, 22, still faces charges, including murder, in the Atlanta murders, where the Fulton County prosecutor is seeking the death penalty. Long pleaded not guilty in Fulton County, and a hearing in that case is scheduled for next month.

District Attorney Fani Willis said she believes race and gender played a role in Long’s motivation for the Atlanta murders, and she is seeking an improved sentence under the law of state on hate crimes.

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