National

What we know about the victims of the Atlanta shootings

Seven of the eight killed were women. Six people were of Asian descent. Two were White.

Astrid Riecken
Candles are lit as a sign of solidarity following a march in Chinatown in Washington, D.C., on March 17 to remember and honor the eight lives lost in Atlanta. (The Washington Post by Astrid Riecken)

One was a newlywed bride getting a massage with her husband. Another was an immigrant from China who proudly built her business from nothing. The youngest was 33. The oldest was 77.

In three deadly shootings Tuesday at Atlanta-area spas , eight people lost their lives, leaving behind family members, such as an infant daughter, and friends, including longtime customers.

Seven of the eight killed were women. Six people were of Asian descent. Two were White.

The alleged gunman, Robert Aaron Long, 21, was charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.

Here is what we know about those who died in the shootings.

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– Xiaojie Tan.

Thursday would have been Xiaojie Tan’s 50th birthday.

Instead, Tan, of Kennesaw, Ga., was remembered by her friends who left flowers at her business, Young’s Asian Massage, the scene of a shooting that killed her and three others.

Tan, or Emily as she was known by some friends, was dedicated to her job and her daughter, a recent graduate from the University of Georgia.

Her daughter, Jami Webb, 29, told USA Today that her mother was her best friend.

“She did everything for me and for the family,” Webb told the newspaper. “She provided everything. She worked every day, 12 hours a day, so that me and our family would have a better life.”

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Webb and Tan’s ex-husband, Michael Webb, did not respond to requests for comment.

Tan sometimes hosted Lunar New Year and Fourth of July parties with food and fireworks at her spa, said friend and customer Greg Hynson, 54.

Hynson said they met six years ago.

“She was a very good friend, a kind, sweet person,” Hynson said.

Hynson said Tan’s business was unfairly stigmatized by some who associated her store with sex work.

“She was absolutely professional,” he said. “She cared about her job, she cared about her customers, she cared about her friends and family.”

After he heard about the shooting, Hynson rushed to the scene, shocked to see police cars.

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“I can’t wrap my mind around it,” he said. “The kindest, sweetest people, gone. For what?”

At a two-story townhouse in Kennesaw listed in Tan’s name, neighbors who recalled her friendly nature said she moved out two years ago.

Ken Butler, who lives two doors down, said Tan had lived at the house with her husband, whom he identified as Jason. Butler said they were “really very nice people” who took interest in their indoor aquarium, summer plants and their pet Chihuahua.

“They just struck me as really hard-working people who owned businesses and tried to earn a living,” Butler, 29, said. “It is really unfortunate they got caught up in this.”

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Butler said he is highly skeptical of the reports that Long had frequented Young’s in search of sexual encounters.

“They were not these kinds of people,” said Butler. “They were good honest people.”

Butler, who moved into the neighborhood in 2015, said Tan rarely had any guests over but she, Jason and their daughter were social with other neighbors.

“She always so nice always said hello and waved,” added Butler’s wife, Taylor, 25.

– Delaina Yaun.

Delaina Yaun, 33, and her husband had decided to treat themselves Tuesday. They booked a couples massage and were in separate rooms when the gunman entered and started shooting, according to DeLayne Davis, a relative. Yaun was killed. Her husband escaped.

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“They were just taking an afternoon together,” Davis said. “It was the first time they’d ever been to that place.”

The past year had been momentous for Yaun. Over the summer she gave birth to her second child, a daughter. Shortly after, she and her husband, Mario Gonzalez, were wed in a small ceremony in Ringgold, Ga.

Her dreams were finally coming true. Things were falling into place with her,” said Lisa Marie, Yaun’s longtime friend. “It was good to see her happiness.”

Gonzalez told the news website Mundo Hispanico that moments after the horrific shooting, when he was anguished by the uncertainty of what had happened to his wife, he was briefly arrested and handcuffed by police officers who had arrived there. The Cherokee County Sheriff’s office, who responded to the event, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Friends and relatives said Yaun put her family above all else. When a divorce upended her sister’s family a couple of years ago, Yaun took in two of her sister’s preteen children to live in her home.

She was close with her mother, who lived with her as well. Marie remembered getting misty-eyed seeing the two of them dance to Boyz II Men at her wedding. “They were inseparable,” she said.

When she wasn’t with family, Yaun worked hard, covering the third shift at a local Waffle House. She’d been a server at the restaurant chain since 2013 and was recently cross-trained as a grill operator, Waffle House said in a statement.

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Yaun’s friend Rose Luce also recalled her affection for others, telling the Guardian that Yaun let her stay with her when she lost her job due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Yaun “took me and my boyfriend along with my dog into her already full home because she cared about me,” she wrote.

Yaun’s Facebook page was sprinkled with pictures of her wedding and her children, along with loving messages from her husband.

“It’s you who occupies all of my heart,” he wrote in one of their last exchanges.

“Thank you, my love,” she replied. “You and me.”

– Paul Andre Michels.

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Paul Andre Michels, a 54-year-old handyman at Young’s Asian Massage, was an Army veteran, family members told news outlets.

Michels, who grew up in Detroit, came from a large family. He was the seventh of nine children, according to his younger brother John Michels.

“He was a good, hard-working man who would do what he could do to help people,” John Michels said in an interview with WSB-TV 2. “He’d loan you money if you needed it sometimes. You never went away from his place hungry.”

Michels had recently found the job at the spa, his friend Kikiana Whidby told CBS 46.

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“He had been out of work for a while and this was something that came to him and he was really excited about,” Whidby said.

“I’m mad, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy,” she said.

– Daoyou Feng.

Daoyou Feng, 44, began working at Young’s Asian Massage in recent months, according to Tan’s friend Hynson.

She was kind and quiet, he said.

Her relatives could not be reached for comment.

– Yong Ae Yue.

Yong Ae Yue, 63, was among the four workers killed in Atlanta. She was also a mother, according to her family’s attorney BJay Pak.

Her sons, in a statement shared by Pak, thanked “those who have reached out to provide support and words of encouragement.”

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“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved mother, and words cannot adequately describe our grief,” they said.

One son, Robert Peterson, 38, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution she was laid off amid the pandemic and excited to return to work. She frequently spent her time cooking Korean food, visiting friends and watching movies and soap operas or reading.

“My mother didn’t do anything wrong,” Peterson said. “And she deserves the recognition that she is a human, she’s a community person like everyone else. None of those people deserved what happened to them.”

Fulton County’s medical examiner said Yue died after she was shot in the head.

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– Hyun Jung Grant.

Working long hours at Gold Spa in Atlanta, Hyun Jung Grant, 51, was a single mother who did all she could to support her sons, according to son Randy Park, 23.

Park told the Daily Beast that Grant loved dancing, electronic music and her sons. He said she hid her job from them, saying instead that she worked at a makeup store. Before she moved from South Korea, she was an elementary school teacher, she told her sons.

“And here in America, she did what she had to do,” he said to the news website. “She was a single mother of two kids who dedicated her whole life to raising them.”

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Co-workers of Park remembered Grant visiting her son at the Tree Story Bakery and Cafe in Duluth, Ga., where he worked.

“I could see the joy in her eyes every time she would see him working,” bakery worker Isaac Cho said. “I could tell from that that she was a very loving mother who cared for her family.”

Park started a GoFundMe fundraiser after he and his younger brother were told they would be forced to move from their home.

“Losing her has put a new lens on my eyes on the amount of hate that exists in our world,” he wrote on the page.

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In an update the same day the fundraiser surpassed $1 million, Park said he was grateful for the outpouring of aid.

“My mother can rest easy knowing I have the support of the world with me,” he wrote.

– Soon Chung Park.

Soon Chung Park, 74, was also a worker at an Atlanta spa.

Her family didn’t respond when reached for comment.

Park previously lived in New York, where she has relatives, her son-in-law, Scott Lee, told the New York Times.

“She got along with her family so well,” Lee told the newspaper.

– Suncha Kim.

Suncha Kim, 69, worked at one of the spas in Atlanta.

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Her family could not be reached for comment.

Kim, a grandmother, was married for more than 50 years, a family member told the Times. She enjoyed line dancing and worked hard, the relative said.

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