Eight people, six of them Asian women, were killed on Tuesday in a string of shootings at Atlanta-area spas. Information about the victims has been hard to find and slow to emerge, in part because some of them were not carrying official forms of identification and were only known to immediate acquaintances by their last names, making it harder for investigators to confirm their identities and release them to the press.
But today, we know all their names, and some friends and family members have started speaking publicly about their loved ones’ lives. Here’s what we know about the people killed on Tuesday.
Xiaojie Tan died the day before her 50th birthday at the spa she owned, Young’s Asian Massage, in Acworth, Georgia. Her only child, daughter Jami Webb, told USA Today that Tan, who sometimes went by Emily, “worked every day, 12 hours a day, so that me and our family would have a better life.”
Jami’s adoptive father, Michael Webb, met and fell in love with Tan in her home city of Nanning, China, in the early 2000s. They soon married, and Michael went on to become an adoptive father to Jami. Tan “was full of smiles and laughter. She was just a pleasure to be around,” he told USA Today. Even after they divorced in 2012, the same year Tan became a U.S. citizen, the couple stayed close. “She’d always say, ‘we family,’ ” Michael said.
People who knew Tan describe her as a shrewd, hardworking businesswoman who opened her first business, a nail salon, within months of moving to Georgia in 2010. A loyal customer of six years called her “the sweetest person you’d ever meet”—she greeted him at the spa with a cake for his birthday last year. Tan would host parties at her spa for Lunar New Year and Fourth of July, and she kept a list of places she’d like to travel to upon retirement, often inspired by the travel tales her customers told. Jami said the family hasn’t been able to face telling Tan’s mother, in China, about her daughter’s death, for fear that the news would make her ill. When Jami’s grandmother called for Tan’s birthday, Jami said, “She kept asking to talk to my mom. We told my grandma that my mom lost her phone and couldn’t answer.”
Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, was also killed at Young’s Asian Massage on Tuesday. She and her husband, Mario Gonzalez, had arranged child care for their 8-month-old daughter so they could spend the evening relaxing with massages. Gonzalez was able to escape the shooting without harm. The two had wed just last year.
Loved ones describe Yaun as a generous and caring family member. She was a single parent to her 13-year-old son before she met Gonzalez. When her sister divorced a few years ago, two of her children went to live with Yaun as well. To support her family (her mother also lived with her), Yaun worked the third shift at a Waffle House, where she’d been a server since 2013. She’d recently trained to operate the grill, a promotion. “Her dreams were finally coming true. Things were falling into place with her,” a friend of Yaun’s told the Washington Post. Another friend and former colleague told the Los Angeles Times that Yaun would arrive at work in the morning singing gospel tunes. “She was a beautiful person, 100 percent caring,” the friend said.
The other victims of the shooting at Young’s Asian Massage were Daoyou Feng, 44, a recently hired employee, and Paul Andre Michels, 54, a former Army infantryman and businessman. Feng had worked at the spa for only a few weeks. She was originally from China, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution described her as having a “kind smile.” Michels, a Catholic who was raised in Detroit, had eight siblings and had been married for 20 years. One of his brothers, John, suspected that Michels may have been at the spa on Tuesday to talk to Tan about her business, because he was considering opening his own spa. Michels had also been doing handiwork for the spa. “He was a good, hard-working man who would do what he could do to help people,” John Michels told the Associated Press. “He’d loan you money if you needed it sometimes. You never went away from his place hungry.”
The two sons of Hyun Jung Grant, 51, who was killed at Atlanta’s Gold Spa, have been vocal about their love for their mother in the days since her death. In an Instagram post, Eric Park wrote that his mother “was the greatest person in my life” and “always pushed me to do my best. Supporting me when I wanted to be a chef and letting me take culinary classes or even getting connections when I had an interest in hairstyling. She was everything you could ask for in a mom she did everything she could to take care of me and my brother as a single mother.”
Grant’s other son, Randy Park, also posted a photo and remembrance on Instagram. “She lived her whole life only to support her two sons all on her own and to see her taken away from us like this is unfair,” he wrote. “I can’t describe how I feel. She’ll never get to see my brother and I get married, own homes, graduate college, and see her grandchildren.” On a GoFundMe page that’s raising money for the Park brothers’ expenses after the loss of their only parent, Randy wrote, “She was one of my best friends and the strongest influence on who we are today.”
Randy told the Daily Beast that his mother “worked her ass off” as an elementary school teacher in Korea and as an employee at the massage parlor after she came to the U.S. He noted that he never knew his father, and his mother raised them as a single parent. She devoted her life to supporting her sons, but she didn’t let hard work get in the way of a good time. Grant loved dancing, Randy said, and “she would always try to convince me to go out. She loved going to clubs. She loved Tiesto. She was like a teenager.” The two would frequently go out for sushi together before her shifts. “I could tell her anything,” he said.
Suncha Kim, 69, who also died at Gold Spa, enjoyed line dancing, according to the New York Times. She immigrated from South Korea to give her children a better life, a family member told the Times. She had been married for more than 50 years and was a grandmother.
Soon Chung Park, at 74 the oldest person killed in the shootings, had moved to Atlanta from New York, according to the Times. She remained close to her family there.
Yong Ae Yue, 63, was killed at the Aromatherapy spa. She had immigrated from South Korea in the ‘70s after meeting her husband when he was stationed at an Army base. The couple remained close after divorcing in the early ‘80s. They had two sons. According to the Journal-Constitution, she “loved kids and grandkids, soap operas, reading, feeding hungry people and doting over a Shih Tzu named Iyong.” She was also described as generous with her money, time, and support to anyone who needed help.
Update, March 22, 2021: We’ve updated this story with additional details about the victims of the shooting.