Atlanta and Boulder Shooting Incident—Happening Under a Span of a Week?

Kenny Doan

2021 has ultimately come to a stop. From the anti-Asian hate crimes to the on-going coronavirus pandemic, we have now come to another problem. Recently, shootings have occurred in three Asian spas and massage parlors within the Atlanta area of Georgia and in a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado. Both shootings have occurred in less than a week—raising concerns for gun control in the United States.

Atlanta Spa Shootings –

On March 16, 2021, a mass shooting occurred at three spas and massage parlors in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, Georgia. Robert Aaron Long, 21, shot and reportedly killed eight people total, six were Asian, and injured another. Robert Aaron Long was taken into custody about three hours after the shooting. 

The first shooting occurred at Young’s Asian Massage, a massage parlor near Acworth, Georgia. Around 4:54 pm local, Long pulled into the massage parlor. Inside Young’s Asian Massage, four people were killed and one person was shot. 

Ashley Yaun, 33, Paul Andre Michels, 54, Xiojie Tan, 49, and Daoyou Feng, 44, were among those people who were killed in Young’s Asian Massage. The fifth victim, Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, is in critical condition. 

The second shooting was approximately 30 miles away from where the first shooting occurred. Around 5:47 pm local time, a call of a robbery at The Gold Spa was reported. Inside The Gold Spa, three people were killed. While investigators were on scene, there was a report of a third shooting across the street at the Aromatherapy Spa. There, one person was killed. In total, four people were killed.

Yong Ae Yue, 63, Soon Chung Park, 74, Suncha Kim, 69, and Hyun Jung Grant, 51 were among those people who were killed in both The Gold Spa and the Aromatherapy Spa. 

At around 6-8 pm local time, a family member of Long gave the police his phone number and began to track his movements. A black Hyundai Tucson, identified as belonging to Robert Aaron Long, was pulled over using the PIT (Precision Immobilization Technique) maneuver—a technique in which an officer bumps the rear of a behavior to force it off the road. Long was arrested and booked into the Crisp County Detention Center and later returned to Cherokee County. Investigators recovered the 9mm firearm, which was used to shoot the victims, from the vehicle. 

At the moment, Georgia law enforcement officials say it’s too early in the investigation to determine if the shootings constitute a hate crime due to the recent waves of attacks against Asian Americans. During an interview with Long, he stated the acts were not racially motivated, and he had an addiction and frequently visited spas to eliminate them as a source of temptation. However according to a report from a national Korean newspaper, The Chosun Ilbo, a Gold Spa employee witnessed that Long said, “I’m going to kill all Asians.” 

Boulder Shooting

On March 22, 2021, six days after the Atlanta spa shooting, a mass shooting occurred at a King Sooners supermarket in Boulder Colorado. Ahmad Al Aliwi Al-Issa, 21, shot and killed 10 victims, one of the victims being a police officer on-duty. Al-Issa was arrested and taken into custody at 3:28 pm local time—about an hour after the shooting began.

At around 2:33-2:34 pm local time, Boulder police began to receive calls about shots fired at the grocery store and witnesses told police that the suspect shot a man inside a vehicle and began to shoot at other people in the parking lot. For a few minutes during the active shooting, many reported that they barricaded themselves inside the store while some reported there were people on the floor. 

At 2:39-2:40 pm local time, a police officer was shot twice and found in the front door of the store. Officers on-scene were advised to “armor up.” About 10 minutes later, Boulder police tweeted: “ALERT: Active Shooter at the King Soopers on Table Mesa. AVOID THE AREA. PIO is en-route.” 

Between 3 to 3:27 pm local time, police surrounded the store and prepared to capture the suspect. A video showed police vehicles outside the store and with a bullhorn, police shouted: “The entire building is surrounded. You need to surrender. Come out with your hands up, unarmed. This is the Boulder Police Department.”

Finally, at 3:28 pm local time, the suspect was injured in his leg and surrendered to custody. However, Boulder police tweeted hourly advising residents in the Table Mesa & Broadway area or those living near the King Soopers store to stay inside their homes and ordered a shelter-in-place. All night, investigators and police officers were collecting evidence and removing the victims inside the store.

On March 23 at 8:30 am local time, all of the victims were identified and authorities have released the names for the 10 victims. The list of victims are:

  • Denny Stong, 20
  • Neven Stanisic, 23
  • Rikki Olds, 25
  • Tralona Bartkowiak, 49
  • Suzanne Fountain, 59
  • Teri Leiker, 51
  • Officer Eric Talley, 51 (Police officer)
  • Kevin Mahoney, 61
  • Lynn Murray, 62
  • Jody Waters, 65

Currently, Al-Issa’s motive for the shooting in the King Soopers store is unknown. However, following the shooting, family members were concerned for Al-Issa’s mental health due to his history of paranoia, disturbance, and antisocial behaviors. On Al-Issa’s now-deleted Facebook page, he expressed how he was being bullied due to racism and Islamophobia. 

In general, the two shootings have spread not only grievances and condolences, but also controversies regarding gun control in this country. After the King Sooper’s shooting incident, President Joe Biden called for an immediate ban on assault weapons and since then, some Republican politicians criticized the ban. Gun control had since been a controversial topic and an issue especially today.