Killings ‘hit home’ for some residents

ACWORTH, Georgia – There is a bullet hole in the wall of Rita Barron’s clothing store in a five-storey mall. And four people in the shop next door were fatally shot on Tuesday.

“I’m sad for everyone because I knew them all,” said Barron. She was working with her husband in their shop, Gabby’s Boutique, when a shooter opened fire in the spa next door called Young’s Asian Massage.

A total of eight people died in the gunman’s rampage at three similar spas in the Atlanta area. The murders have created a flare of fear in companies like Barron’s.

Business owners and locals at the three spas where Robert Aaron Long is accused of killing eight people told the USA TODAY Network they were concerned about hate crimes. Police said Long confessed to the shootings, which were denounced as another example of anti-Asian American violence amid a rising tide of hate crimes in the United States

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Police said Tuesday Long claimed to be a sex addict and said the authorities’ shootings were not racially motivated, even though six of the victims were Asian women. Long, of Woodstock, Ga., Was charged with eight murders in all three shootings on Wednesday.

Andrew Eun, who identifies as an Asian American, was born in Atlanta and has lived in the city for 34 years. The shootings were a particular shock to have hit so close to his parents ‘and parents’ workplaces.

“When it was in downtown Atlanta, you talked about a couple of blocks from where my parents work, and the Northwest Atlanta location is actually about 15 minutes from where I work,” said Eun at home. I find it incredibly disturbing. ”

Although he was shocked by the shooting, Eun said anti-Asian American sentiments are not new. He shared how he was called a bow at a young age when he was in third grade. And recently anti-Asian attitudes seem to be spreading across the country, he said.

What we know:Suspect officially charged after 8 people were killed in 3 companies; Most of the victims were Asians

“I think there are so many different ways to explain and understand this phenomenon. I think the anti-Asian American sentiment has been around here in the nation for a very long time, ”he said.

When asked if he was afraid of going public as an Asian-American citizen, he said, “Yes, 100%”.

Adrian Lopec is the manager of Bug Savings Tool and Liquidation on the Strip in Acworth. His shop is at the end of the strip and furthest from the spa. He said he always exchanged courtesies with the owners of Young’s Asian Massage when they saw each other.

“You don’t hear anything like that,” said Lopec. “In all the years I’ve lived here, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

In Atlanta, residents brave the wet and bleak weather on Wednesday afternoon to bring flowers and candles to commemorate the victims of those killed on Tuesday evening.

Visual timeline:What happened at the spa shoot in Atlanta?

Several bouquets of flowers and candles stood on the steps of the Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa on Piedmont Road. Signs saying “We must love and protect each other” and “we will defend each other” were also left at the Gold Spa. We will show solidarity. “

One resident, Kevin Howell, said he was careful going out of the house on early weekend mornings. His house is off Piedmont Road. The streets, he said, are often filled with loud cars and louder music.

“This area has gone really crazy,” he said.

From his balcony, Howell said he could see behind the Aromatherapy Spa, one of the spas affected by the violence on Tuesday.

“And all you see is people waiting outside or going in at the craziest times in the morning,” Howell said. “Lots of people would park in the back so they wouldn’t be seen.”

Sukari Olawumi, who works in a private practice nearby, said she came to pay her respects because of the horror of the event.

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“I was devastated and angry,” said Olawumi. “It’s unacceptable and there is no reason for it.”

The residents Erica Gonzalez and Roula Abisamra brought out some of the flowers and other commemorative stamps to stand up for people of color.

“We came here to show our support for everyone and to let everyone know that this is not accepted or tolerated here in Atlanta,” said Gonzalez.

Abisamra added: “I’m not an expert on crime, on violence. What I do know is that we, as women of color, are always particularly violent. We wanted to say, “We see you, you shouldn’t have lost your life. We are there with you and want to protect you. ‘“

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