Spa shootings: Victims identified, investigation continues, a community mourns

A makeshift memorial is seen Friday in Acworth in the aftermath of shootings Tuesday at three metro Atlanta massage businesses.

Candice Choi / Associated PRess

We’re learning more each day about the shootings this week in metro Atlanta that left eight people dead, most of them women of Asian descent.

Friday afternoon, we learned the identities of the last four women, all of them identified as Asian women by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office. They were killed at two of the spas targeted on Piedmont Road — the Gold Massage Spa and the Aromatherapy Spa.

The Fulton Medical Examiner’s Office and family members identified the women as Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong Ae Yue, 63.

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office identified the four victims who were killed at Young’s Asian Massage near Woodstock. They are Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Yan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44.

WABE reporter Lisa Hagen spoke with this week’s “All Things Considered” host and health reporter Sam Whitehead after she spent the afternoon interviewing local businesses and neighbors about the women.

The news comes as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris visited Atlanta on Friday, and met with Asian American and Pacific Islander community leaders and state legislators in the wake of the violence against the AAPI community.

Biden said in a statement he’s urging Congress to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, writing that it would “expedite the federal government’s response to the rise of hate crimes exacerbated during the pandemic.”

Biden and Harris also visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and delivered remarks at Emory University.

Meanwhile, Atlanta police note that “nothing is off the table” in their investigation of the deadly shootings at two Atlanta massage businesses. That includes whether the slayings were a hate crime.

The Atlanta Police Department also clarified in a statement that the crime spree by the alleged shooter, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, who is white, occurred in two different cities in the Atlanta area. Officials wrote that “while the cases are linked by the same perpetrator, our investigations are independent of one another and there are different dynamics to each.”

Meanwhile, people continue to travel to all the spas and leave heartfelt messages for the victims’ families, placing flowers and cards in front of the businesses as a makeshift memorial.