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Report: Korean Americans in Atlanta in shock, grief over spa shootings

Report: Korean Americans in Atlanta in shock, grief over spa shootings
Mass shootings at three spas in the Atlanta area have stunned the Korean American community in Georgia, according to a South Korean press report. Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE

March 18 (UPI) -- Korean communities across the United States are expressing fear and anxiety in the aftermath of Tuesday's shootings after a gunman opened fire at three Atlanta-area spas, killing eight, including four unidentified people of Korean descent.

Kim Yoon-chul, chairman of the Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta, told South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo that concern over personal safety is rising and that group plans to discuss countermeasures with various civic organizations.

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"The recent rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans appears to be due to the coronavirus," Kim said, according to the report. A suspect, Robert Aaron Long, 21, has been charged with the killings.

Other Koreans and Korean Americans who spoke anonymously, including an unidentified source at the Association, said the community has been struck with shock and grief after the violent armed attack on Atlanta-area businesses and their guests.

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A 30-year Korean resident of Georgia, who declined to be identified, told the paper that the shootings are deeply disturbing and crimes targeting Asians were "unheard of" in the state until this week.

"The Asian community, including Korean American organizations, should discuss concretely to prevent their recurrence," the source said, according to the report.

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The mass shootings at Young's Asian Massage near Acworth, Gold Spa on Piedmont Road in northeast Atlanta and Aromatherapy Spa involved six victims who were Asian or Asian American, but the suspect's motive has not been established.

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On Wednesday, Cherokee County officials in Georgia identified four of the victims: Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44.

Local authorities have not released the names of the four remaining victims. South Korea's foreign ministry said the victims, all women, were of Korean descent, but their citizenship has not been confirmed.

South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Choi Young-sam said Thursday at a regular press briefing in Seoul that the South Korean Consulate General in Atlanta is waiting for Atlanta-area police to release the names of the Korean and Korean American victims.

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"We express our deepest condolences," Choi said, according to Yonhap.

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