ATLANTA — A year after a gunman shot and killed eight people at three metro Atlanta spas, we are remembering the victims.
Six Asian women were among the dead at the spas in Cherokee County and metro Atlanta. Authorities arrested 21-year-old Robert Long from Woodstock in the deadly rampage. Long was captured after a short chase in Crisp County hours after the Atlanta shootings.
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The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed the victims in Atlanta were:
- 69-year-old Sun Cha Kim
- 63-year-old Yong Ae Yue
- 51-year-old Hyun Jung Grant
- 74-year-old Soon Chung Park
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office released the names of victims there:
- 33-year-old Delaina Ashley Yaun, of Acworth.
- 54-year-old Paul Andre Michels, of Atlanta.
- 49-year-old Xiaojie Tan, of Kennesaw.
- 44-year-old Daoyou Feng.
- Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, of Acworth, injured.
- 8 killed, 1 injured in shootings at 3 spas in metro Atlanta; suspect in custody
- Georgia spa shootings: Suspect confesses, claims he was not racially motivated, sheriff says
- Names released for victims in deadly Cherokee County spa shooting
What we know about the victims
HYUN JUNG GRANT, 51
Hyun Jung Grant loved disco and club music, often strutting or moonwalking while doing household chores and jamming with her sons to tunes blasting over the car stereo.
The single mother found ways to enjoy herself despite working “almost every day” to support two sons, said the older son, 22-year-old Randy Park.
“I learned how to moonwalk because, like, I saw her moonwalking while vacuuming when I was a kid,” Park said.
On Tuesday night, Park was at home playing video games when he heard a gunman had opened fire at the Atlanta massage business where his mother worked. He rushed to the scene and then to a police station to find out more information. But it was through word of mouth that he learned his mother was dead.
Grant, 51, was among eight people killed by gunfire at three metro Atlanta massage businesses. The Fulton County medical examiner released her identity Friday along with those of three other victims: Soon C. Park 74; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong A. Yue, 63.
The situation has been harrowing for Park, who said he has not been able to claim his mother’s body from the medical examiner’s office because of a complication with her last name, which is legally Grant. Park said that name is from a marriage he does not recall, and he can’t find papers showing a separation to prove that he is the next of kin.
Park dismissed the idea that the shootings weren’t fueled by anti-Asian sentiment. Still, he said that his mother raised him to believe that people are fundamentally good, though “sometimes, things go horribly wrong.”
It wasn’t immediately clear which of the Atlanta businesses employed Grant.
Her job was a sensitive subject, Park said, noting the stigma often associated with massage businesses. She told her sons that they should tell others she worked doing makeup with her friends.
Ultimately, Park said, he didn’t care what she did for work.
“She loved me and my brother enough to work for us, to dedicate her whole life,” he said. “That’s enough.”
Grant’s son’s have set up a GoFundMe to help pay for her funeral expenses. As of Saturday night, it had raised over $2.5 million.
SUN CHA KIM, 69
In a GoFundMe set up to cover her funeral expenses, her granddaughter described Kim as “pure-hearted and the most selfless woman I knew.”
Kim was from Seoul, South Korea and had two children and three grandchildren.
“She represented everything I wanted to be as a woman, without an ounce of hate or bitterness in her heart,” Hillary Li wrote. “People that were close to me, knew that my grandmother was my rock. To have her taken away as a perfectly healthy elderly woman by such a heinous crime broke my heart.”
Li said all her grandmother wanted was to grow old with her husband and “watch her children and grandchildren live the life she never got to live.”
YONG AE YUE, 63
The following statement is from the family of Atlanta shooting victim Ms. Yong Ae Yue and issued by their counsel, Alston & Bird partner BJay Pak.
“We are the sons of Ms. Yong Ae Yue, one of the victims of the recent tragic shootings that occurred this past week. We are devastated by the loss of our beloved mother, and words cannot adequately describe our grief. To all those who have reached out to provide support and words of encouragement, thank you. At this time, since the case has garnered so much attention, we are asking that the media and the public to please respect our family’s privacy while we grieve and while we make arrangements for our mother’s funeral. We will be making another statement at the appropriate time. Until then, please direct any inquiries to our attorney. Thank you.”
Her family has set up a GoFundMe to help pay for Yue’s funeral expenses. The funeral will be held March 26.
“Yong was of the Buddhist faith. She enjoyed singing karaoke and cooking. Times dearest to Yong’s heart was the moments she spent with her children and grandchildren, nurturing them to be the young men and women they are today,” her obituary read.
DELAINA ASHLEY YAUN, 33
It was planned as a day for Yaun to relax.
Yaun and her husband arranged for someone to care for their 8-month daughter while they headed to Youngs Asian Massage Parlor. Family members said the couple were first-time customers, eager for a chance to unwind.
They were in separate rooms inside the spa when the gunman opened fire. Yaun was killed. Her husband escaped unharmed.
“They’re innocent. They did nothing wrong,” Yaun’s weeping mother, Margaret Rushing, told WAGA-TV. “I just don’t understand why he took my daughter.”
Yaun’s husband could hear the gunfire inside the spa but was helpless to save his wife, said Dana Toole, Yaun’s sister.
“He’s taking it hard,” Toole said. “When you’re in a room and gunshots are flying, what do you do?”
PAUL ANDRE MICHELS, 54
Michels owned a business installing security systems, a trade he learned after moving to the Atlanta area more than 25 years ago. He’d been talking about switching to a new line of work.
Michels never got to settle on a career change. He was fatally shot at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor along with three others.
“From what I understand, he was at the spa that day doing some work for them,” said Michels’ younger brother, John Michels of Commerce, Michigan.
Paul Michels also might have been talking with the spa’s owner about how the business operates, his brother said, because he had been thinking about opening a spa himself.
“His age caught up to him. You get to a point where you get tired of climbing up and down ladders,” John Michels said. “He was actually looking to start his own massage spa. That’s what he was talking about last year.”
Paul Michels grew up in Detroit in a large family where he was the seventh of nine children. His brother John was No. 8.
Though they were born 2 1/2 years apart, “he was basically my twin,” John Michels said. Both enlisted in the Army after high school, with Paul joining the infantry.
A few years after leaving the military, Paul followed his brother to the Atlanta area in 1995 for a job doing low-voltage electrical work, installing phones and security systems. He also met his wife, Bonnie, and they were married more than 20 years.
“He was a good, hard-working man who would do what he could do to help people,” John Michels said. “He’d loan you money if you needed it sometimes. You never went away from his place hungry.”
Xiaojie “Emily” Tan was the owner of Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth. Friends of Tan’s said she is a mother of a recent graduate of the University of Georgia. She would have turned 50 years old on Thursday, just days after her death.
Friends told Channel 2′s Chris Jose that Tan was “the sweetest, most kind hearted, giving, never-met-a-stranger person.”
Jose talked to Greg Hynson, Tan’s friend, at the growing memorial outside her business.
“I just can’t believe she’s gone,” Hynson said.
Hynson said he had known Tan for six years and considered her a close friend. Hynson came to the spa to get massages and said he knew Tan’s employees.
“They were friends, they loved everybody,” Hynson said. “It was just the nicest group of people. I can’t put any reasoning behind why somebody would want to do something so horrific to such nice people.”
Friends said they rushed to the business after hearing about the shooting.
“My heart was in my throat the second I heard about it,” Hynson said. “And once I got here, the whole situation was just so surreal. It still doesn’t seem real.”