NORCROSS, Ga. — The Asian American community is honoring the lives of the metro Atlanta spa shooting victims on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy.
A vigil for the eight victims will be held at the Korean American Center on Wednesday night.
Four people were killed at a spa in Cherokee County, and another four were killed in shootings at two Atlanta spas – each across the street from the other.
Channel 2′s Chris Jose learned the vigil is not just about honoring the lives lost from a year ago, but it’s also a call to stop Asian hate that is still happening across the country.
Most of the victims, women of Asian descent, had come to the U.S. for a better life.
The sole survivor from the shootings told Jose that’s the same reason he came to this country.
Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz said he drives by the Cherokee County spa where he was shot every day on his way to work.
“It’s very challenging. He does think about the victims frequently. Most importantly, the victims’ families,” said Doug Rohan, Hernandez-Ortiz’s attorney.
A year later, a bullet is still lodged in his body.
“He looks at his daughter every day and he understands what a blessing it is to have those moments,” Rohan said.
Eight people died in the spa shootings. Six were women of Asian descent. They were mothers and sisters who came to America for a better life.
“We still don’t understand why such a nice and lovely girl was killed by someone full of hatred in the heart, said Charles Li with the Atlanta Chinese American Alliance, reading from a letter from Daoyou Feng’s family.
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Feng worked for Xiaojie Tan. Both died in the Cherokee County spa shooting.
Eight months ago, Hernandez-Ortiz sat in a Cherokee County courtroom when a judge sentenced the gunman to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“During that time, perhaps he does find salvation. Perhaps he does find God. But that’s up to him and his God. And it’s my not role to take his life from him,” Hernandez-Ortiz said.
As for Dana Toole, she has to find comfort in reading and writing.
She shared a letter she wrote to her sister— Delaina Yaun—to show how much she misses her.
Yaun was also killed in the spa shootings.
“I feel like she’s still looking over me she’s telling me to be strong,” Toole said.
She told Jose that she wrote the letter to mark the one-year anniversary of her sister’s death.
“There’s not a day that I don’t think him or her,” Toole said. “On this day, a year ago, he used that gun to take eight victims’ lives.”
For Toole, she’s taking a moment to remember her sister. Pictures tell the story of a wife and mother who lost her life on a date night with her husband.
“It’s very hard, because the guy that took her life, took it on this day,” Toole said.
The shooter already pleaded guilty to the four deaths in Cherokee County but pleaded not guilty in the Atlanta cases.
The Fulton County District Attorney is currently seeking the death penalty in the Atlanta cases.
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