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Delaina Yaun and her husband were at Youngs Asian Massage, a spa in Acworth, Georgia, last Tuesday, when a gunman entered and opened fire.
“They just went to go have some time alone, husband and wife. Just time together,” Dana Toole, Yaun’s sister, told CNN. “Unfortunately, it went bad. It went bad real fast.”
Yaun was killed, one of the nine victims in shootings at three different spas in the Atlanta-area – one in Acworth and two in Atlanta. Of the eight people who lost their lives, six were Asian women.
Four people were killed at the spa in Cherokee County, about 30 miles northwest of Atlanta. They were identified by authorities as 33-year-old Yaun, of Acworth; Paul Andre Michels, 54, of Atlanta; Xiaojie Tan, 49, of Kennesaw; and Daoyou Feng, 44. One man, Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, survived.
Four people were also killed at the spas in Atlanta. On Friday, the Fulton County Medical Examiner identified the victims as Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong Ae Yue, 63.
Among them were mothers, a business owner and an avid cook. This is what we know so far about the victims.
Xiaojie Tan, the owner of Youngs Asian Massage, was a loving, unselfish person who made others feel like family, Greg Hynson, a friend of Tan’s, told CNN.
“Hey, we’re family,” he said they would tell each other often. “I’ll watch your back, you watch mine.”
On his last birthday, Tan sent Hynson a text: “Hey, what are you doing?”
She invited him over to the business, where flowers and a cake with his name on it were waiting, he said, giving an example of her thoughtfulness.
The two met through mutual friends more than five years ago.
Tan was a diligent, hardworking businesswoman, Hynson said, and her employees “were always sweet and nice people,” he said. “Very similar to her personality.”
Hynson would often stop by her Cherokee County business to say hello, just like he did the weekend before the shootings, he said. That was the last time he saw Tan, who was busy at the time.
“I’ll come back later,” he remembered telling her when he saw her.
“I didn’t get a chance to come back later,” he said.
Tan’s former husband, Michael Webb, told CNN she was a hardworking woman who had always been determined to own her own business.
She became a nail technician while they lived in Florida, he said, working every day and saving her money. They later moved to Georgia, where she ran a business in Marietta for 10 years before she opened Youngs Asian Massage.
“Over the last couple years she’d kept saying to me, ‘I’m going to be able to retire soon,’” Webb said.
“She worked so hard,” he said. “I’m sad that it ended in an instant while she was working hard, and she’ll never get to enjoy that.”
Webb told CNN that Tan was protective of her employees, sometimes kicking certain men out of the spa.
“She wanted to know where her employees were … who the customers were, she used to tell me a lot of times she would throw customers out because they would come in and think that they could have sex,” Webb said.
Yaun’s sister described her as a family-oriented person. Recently married, she was the mother of two children, including an 8-month-old daughter.
“Her family came first. Everything was her family,” Toole said. “She had such a wonderful, happy, upbeat personality.”
“She was a good person,” Toole said. “She didn’t deserve that. Nobody deserved it.”
Yaun’s husband made it out of the Acworth spa safely, according to a GoFundMe page that said her family was heartbroken and “there’s nothing anyone could do to help with the pain.”
In an interview with Mundo Hispanico, Yaun’s husband, Mario Gonzalez, said he was in a different room at the time the shooting started, about an hour into the massages.
“They took the most valuable thing I have in my life,” he said, adding, “He left me with only pain, the killer who killed my wife.”
Another GoFundMe page called Yaun a “beautiful Angel.”
“She has two beautiful babies she is leaving behind,” it said. “We just don’t know how to do any of this alone.”
Hyun Jung Grant
Hyun Jung Grant was among those killed at Gold Massage Spa in Atlanta, her son, Randy Park, said on a GoFundMe page that had raised more than $2.7 million by Sunday evening. Park described her as a “single mother who dedicated her whole life to providing for my brother and I.”
“She was one of my best friends and the strongest influence on who we are today,” he said. “Losing her has put a new lens on my eyes on the amount of hate that exists in our world.”
Park said he and his brother are the only members of his family in the United States. The rest of their family is in South Korea.
Yong Ae Yue
A statement from Yong Ae Yue’s sons released by a family attorney said they are “devastated by the loss of our beloved mother, and words cannot adequately describe our grief.”
“Mom was an amazing woman who loved to introduce our family and friends to her home-cooked Korean food and Korean karaoke,” Yue’s youngest son wrote on GoFundMe, adding they would “miss joining mom on her weekly Sunday routine to the grocery store and traditional Korean dinner.”
“She was always kind-hearted and willing to help everyone she encountered,” he said.
Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz was shot at Youngs Asian Massage in Acworth – the sole survivor of last Tuesday’s shootings.
Hernandez-Ortiz suffered injuries including being shot in the forehead and will need facial surgery, his wife, Flora Gonzalez Gomez, said on GoFundMe. He is now in the intensive care unit in the hospital, she said.
In an interview with CNN en Español on Thursday, Gonzalez Gomez said she received a call from her husband, a mechanic, moments after the shooting.
“He called me and told me, ‘I got shot, I got shot, please come,’” she said. “That was the only thing he told me. It was terrifying listening to that.”
His daughter, 9-year-old Yoseline Gonzalez, watched medics load him into an ambulance after the shooting.
“I don’t really know what to do. I try to calm myself down,” Yoseline told CNN affiliate WGCL, wiping away her tears.
According to Yoseline, doctors told his family he was very lucky to have survived. “He is a really good dad,” she said. “I don’t want him to go.”
Gonzalez Gomez called it a “miracle” that he is alive.
“And for that I’m very thankful to God,” she said, “because I know he’ll move past this.”
One of Suncha Kim’s grandchildren wrote about her on a GoFundMe page, saying she emigrated from Seoul to provide a better life for her family.
Admiring her courage for making the move to the US, the family said Kim spoke very little English upon arrival and worked two to three jobs. She leaves behind a husband, two children and three grandchildren.
“As an immigrant, all my grandmother ever wanted in life was to grow old with my grandfather, and watch her children and grandchildren live the life she never got to live,” the post says.
“Outside of our immediate family, everyone that met my grandmother loved her dearly. She was pure hearted and the most selfless woman I knew. She represented everything I wanted to be as a woman, without an ounce of hate or bitterness in her heart.”
An update from the family Friday said, “It brings tears to our eyes that you are all standing with us and our beloved halmoni, mother, and wife. Suncha was such a strong, loving presence in all of our lives and we miss her so much.”
Fear among Asian American community
Four of the victims were of Korean ethnicity, South Korea’s foreign ministry said Wednesday.
“Our government is closely watching the situation, holding a deep interest in the safety of our compatriots overseas,” South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong said at a news conference. “We express our deep condolences to the American citizens too.”
Activist groups, community members and officials said the attacks heightened existing fear among Asians in the US in the wake of increasing incidents of hate resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s difficult to ignore the fact that many of the victims were Asian, all of the victims in Atlanta were Asian, in fact, and that he targeted these Asian massage parlors,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN on Wednesday.
“Regardless of the motivation, given the concerns the community already has in light of all the attacks that we’ve seen – particularly against Asian American women and the elderly – I think this is a reminder that we need to do everything that we possibly can to protect the most vulnerable among us,” Georgia state Rep. Sam Park told CNN.
The organizations Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, Asian American Advocacy Fund, 9to5 and Korean American Coalition Metro Atlanta said they are gathering resources and funds for those impacted and the families of the Asian victims.
Flowers lined all three Atlanta locations Wednesday as the victims were remembered. Drawings and photographs of parents and children hinted at the grief of families as they mourn parents, siblings, spouses and children.
There could have been more victims, Atlanta mayor says
The first shooting happened shortly before 5 p.m. at Youngs Asian Massage and left four dead. Two of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene and two died at a hospital.
About an hour later and 30 miles away, Atlanta police responded to what was described as a robbery at the Gold Massage Spa on Piedmont Road in Atlanta. Police said they found three people dead.
While there, police received a call of shots fired across the street at the Aroma Therapy Spa, where they found one person dead, Bryant said.
Police have a suspect, 21-year-old Robert Long, in custody on charges in relation to the three attacks. Long was arrested 150 miles south of the city, and Bottoms said he was headed to Florida “perhaps to carry out additional shootings.”
“It’s very likely there would have been more victims,” Bottoms said in a news conference at Atlanta police headquarters.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled the first name of Delaina Yaun in a photo caption. The story also misspelled Xiaojie Tan’s last name based on information provided by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. The story also has been updated to include full and correct names for Yong Ae Yue, Hyun Jung Grant and Soon Chung Park.
CNN’s Paul P. Murphy contributed to this report.