Book Reviews
Covid Information

Special A.C.E. Stories

Online Paper (PDF)

Bids & Public Notices

NW Job Market


Special Sections

Asian Reporter Info

About Us

Advertising Info.

Contact Us
Subscription Info. & Back Issues





Currency Exchange

Time Zones
More Asian Links

Copyright © 1990 - 2023
AR Home


Where EAST meets the Northwest

RACISM RISING. Flowers, candles, and signs are displayed at a makeshift memorial on March 19, 2021, in Atlanta. A 21-year-old white man is accused of shooting five people, killing four and injuring one at Youngs Asian Massage in Cherokee County. Police say the suspect then drove 30 miles south to Atlanta and shot three people at Gold Spa before going across the street to Aromatherapy Spa and shooting Yong Ae Yue. Seven of the slain were women, six of Asian descent. (AP Photo/Candice Choi)

From The Asian Reporter, V31, #4 (April 5, 2021), pages 8.

Atlanta spa shooting victim remembered as fun and selfless

By Kate Brumback

The Associated Press

PEACHTREE CORNERS, Ga. — While a pastor spoke during Yong Ae Yue’s funeral last month, a sunbeam came through the window and shone upon Yue’s two sons, a sure sign their mother was watching, one of them said.

As his mother’s body lay before him in a casket draped with pink flowers, Elliott Peterson pointed to a large photo of her on display and asked friends and family gathered in a funeral home in Peachtree Corners to remember her like that — a big grin on her face and two fingers on each hand extended in a "V."

Yue was one of eight people fatally shot March 16 in attacks on massage businesses in Atlanta and nearby Cherokee County.

The others are also being grieved by friends, family, and their communities. Suncha Kim, 69, volunteered for charities. Soon Chung Park, a former dancer, remained youthful and fit at 74. Xiaojie "Emily" Tan, 49, was an entrepreneur who owned Youngs Asian Massage and other businesses. Daoyou Feng, 44, was one of her employees. Delaina Yaun, 33, was a new mother. Paul Michels, 54, installed security systems. Hyun Jung Grant, 51, loved music and worked at Gold Spa to support two sons.

Four of the women slain were of Korean descent, and leaders of the Korean-American community held an online vigil in Norcross to mourn their deaths and speak out against the huge rise in violence against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

Democratic state representative Sam Park said many community members have been traumatized by the attacks, asking him, "Am I next?"

"Do not be afraid," Park said during the vigil. "This is our home, this is our country, and we will stand and fight to protect our community, the vulnerable among us, and the next generation. We must unequivocally condemn the racist political rhetoric that put a target on the backs of our children, parents, and members of the Asian-American community."

Yue, 63, was born in South Korea and immigrated to the U.S. in 1979 with her then-husband, Mac Peterson. He was in the Army and they moved to the Columbus area. Their older son, Elliott, was born in South Korea, while their younger son, Robert, was born after they moved to Georgia, said attorney BJay Pak, who is representing Yue’s sons.

The couple divorced some time after their second son’s birth and Yue made the tough decision for her boys to live with their father, believing that would give them a better chance to succeed, but she remained a loving presence in their lives, Pak said.

Elliott Peterson said his mother wasn’t very outwardly affectionate but showed her love through food. She was selfless and would be happy about the outpouring of support her sons have received, he said.

Monica Baker, Peterson’s wife, recalled the first time she met Yue, nervous and determined to make a good impression. She fell in love with karaoke that night aided by the liquid courage provided by the soju Yue poured for her, she said, drawing chuckles.

Yue held a variety of jobs over the years, and had only started working at Aromatherapy Spa in Atlanta in October, Pak said. She told her sons her job was to cook, clean, and watch security cameras.

She lived alone with a dog and a cat and had a tight-knit group of friends, Pak said.

Elliott Peterson, 42, served in the military and retired last year. He said during the funeral that he’s so grateful he and his children were able to spend two weeks visiting his mother in October.

Robert Peterson, 38, saw his mother frequently while doing undergraduate studies at Morehouse College in Atlanta and then went on to get a doctorate in medical sociology in Ohio, Pak said.

"As Bobby tells it, she used to brag to her friends, ‘Bobby’s a doctor but not a medicine doctor, he’s a thinking doctor,’" Pak said.

A funeral also was held for Tan, who owned the Cherokee County spa. The service in nearby Marietta was private though a video was posted online.

Tan’s ex-husband, Michael Webb, spoke about how she was intent on showing him her country after they met in China in 2003. They travelled to small cities and villages, living among the "kind and wonderful people of China," he said.

They later moved to the U.S., where she was determined to work and become an American citizen, he said. She had a strong work ethic and saved money to open her own businesses.

"Her customers became her friends and she would always bring them gifts or homemade dumplings, which she would share with the neighboring businesses," he said.

She put her daughter Jami through college, insisting that she become an accountant, and passed along her work ethic and kindness to her, Webb said.

"Sadly, Jami’s family in China wishes for Jami, a proud American citizen, to return to China because they think it’s just not safe here anymore, and who could blame them?" he said. "This it the kind of example our country is setting for the rest of the world."

A 21-year-old white man is accused of shooting five people, killing four and injuring one, at Youngs Asian Massage in Cherokee County. Police say he then drove 30 miles south to Atlanta and shot three people at Gold Spa before going across the street to Aromatherapy and shooting Yue. Seven of the slain were women, six of Asian descent.

Associated Press writer R.J. Rico contributed to this report.

* * *

Slain spa worker toiled tirelessly to support her family

By Candice Choi and Russ Bynum

The Associated Press

March 20, 2021

ATLANTA (AP) — Hyun Jung Grant loved disco and club music, often strutting or moonwalking while doing household chores and jamming with her sons to tunes blasting in the car.

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 Atlanta-area massage businesses. The Fulton County medical examiner released her identity Friday along with those of three other victims: Soon Chung Park, 74; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong Ae Yue, 63.

Authorities in nearby Cherokee County had previously identified the others as Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Daoyou Feng, 44; and Xiaojie Tan, 49, who owned one of the massage businesses.

Seven of the slain were women, and six of them were of Asian descent. Police charged a 21-year-old white man with the killings, saying he was solely responsible for the deadliest U.S. mass shooting since 2019.

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.

Authorities have said the perpetrator, who is charged with eight counts of murder, told them he wasn’t motivated by race. Park dismissed the idea that the shootings weren’t fuelled 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."


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, but never got the chance. He was fatally shot at Youngs Asian Massage on Tuesday 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, hardworking 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."


They day before she was killed, Yaun dropped by Rita Barron’s boutique to say hello and show photos of her eight-month-old daughter.

"She told me, ‘I’m happy. I want another baby,’" said Barron, who had gotten to know Yaun from eating at the Waffle House where the new mother worked.

Yuan and her new husband returned Tuesday to the shopping center where Gabby’s Boutique is located, only this time they headed next door to Youngs Asian Massage. They had planned it as a day for Yaun to relax while a relative watched their baby girl.

Barron and her husband, Alejandro Acosta, heard gunshots from inside the boutique and later noticed that a bullet had gone through the wall. She called 911, and after police arrived Acosta watched them bring people out of the business, some bleeding and wounded. Among those who walked out was Yaun’s husband, unhurt but distraught. His wife had been killed.

"As you can imagine, he’s totally destroyed, without strength, doesn’t want to talk with anybody," said Acosta, who added that he had spoken twice with Yaun’s husband since the shootings.

Family members said Yaun and her husband were first-time customers at Youngs, eager for a chance to unwind.

"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."

Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia. Associated Press writer Michael Warren in Atlanta contributed to this report.

* * *

From The Asian Reporter, V31, #4 (April 5, 2021), pages 8 & 12.

Daughter: Bystander disrupted attack on Asian-American woman

By Michael R. Sisak

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — The daughter of an Asian-American woman attacked in New York City says a person not seen on surveillance video helped the woman by screaming to distract her assailant while others watched and did nothing to intervene.

Elizabeth Kari, writing on a fundraising webpage she set up for her mother’s care, said the bystander was across the street when a man accosted her 65-year-old mother, Vilma Kari, kicked her in the stomach, knocked her to the ground, and repeatedly stomped on her face during the daytime in late March near Times Square.

The person, who has remained anonymous, "yelled and screamed to get the assailant’s attention," Elizabeth Kari wrote. Fundraising service GoFundMe verified the authenticity of the webpage. The Associated Press has been unable to reach the Karis for comment; a message seeking an interview was left with Elizabeth Kari.

"I want to THANK YOU for stepping in and doing the right thing," she wrote. "This gesture of action is what we need in our world right now. I hope one day, my mom and I can thank you personally."

Brandon Elliot, a 38-year-old parolee convicted of killing his mother nearly two decades ago, was charged with assault and attempted assault as hate crimes. His lawyers urged the public to "reserve judgement until all the facts are presented in court."

The attack, among the latest in a national spike in anti-Asian hate crimes, drew widespread condemnation and raised alarms about what appeared to be the failure of bystanders to help. Police said no one called 911 and that patrol officers driving by came upon Kari after she was assaulted.

Vilma Kari, who emigrated from the Philippines several decades ago, suffered serious injuries including a fractured pelvis. She was discharged from the hospital a day after the assault and is "safe and in good spirits," her daughter said.

"Although the healing process will not be easy, she has always been a resilient role model for me," Elizabeth Kari wrote. "We are hopeful that in time she will make a full recovery."

Vilma Kari was attacked outside a luxury apartment building while walking to church. Her Facebook profile features a photo showing St Peter’s Square in Vatican City.

Two workers in the building’s lobby were seen on surveillance video watching the violence but doing nothing to help Kari. The video shows one of the workers closing the building’s door as she lay on the ground about 10 seconds after the attacker started to walk away. The building’s management company said the workers were suspended pending an investigation.

A widely seen snippet of the video ended as the attacker was walking away from Kari. Her daughter wrote that the man was crossing the street and heading toward the bystander who screamed at him. That person has remained anonymous, she said.

The workers’ union, SEIU 32BJ, said the workers waited until the attacker walked away to check on Kari and flag down a nearby patrol car because they thought he had a knife.

A longer version of the surveillance video showed the workers, identified by their union as doormen, waiting in the lobby for more than a minute before going outside and approaching Kari. About a minute after that, the video shows a police car pulling up. The workers and officers are seen with her on the sidewalk for several more minutes before the video cuts off.

Elizabeth Kari wrote that aside from her care, her mother wants to donate some of the fundraiser’s proceeds to support other victims and help organizations that raise awareness and work to prevent anti-Asian American hate crimes. Nearly $100,000 was raised in less than a day — far exceeding the goal of $20,000.

Read the current issue of The Asian Reporter in its entirety!
Just visit <>!