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Shooting at Asian-run salon in Dallas may be a hate crime, police say

Three women were injured in a shooting Wednesday at Hair World Salon in Dallas. (Rebecca Slezak/AP)

The Dallas police chief announced Friday that a recent shooting at an Asian-run hair salon that left three women wounded may be a hate crime and could be connected to a series of similar incidents at other local businesses run by Asian Americans.

A day after police had initially ruled out the possibility of a hate crime, Chief Eddie Garcia said during a news conference that when investigators started connecting the dots to two other recent shootings, it appeared that Wednesday’s attack at Hair World Salon “might be motivated by something other than a random act.”

“As in any other instance where we feel any part of our community is being attacked for a reason of hate, we’re going to take this abundance of caution,” Garcia said, noting Dallas police are working with partners, including the FBI, to investigate. “Hate has no place here.”

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Police responded early Wednesday afternoon to the shooting at Hair World Salon, located in the city’s Koreatown. Three women had been shot and were rushed to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said in a statement.

The shooter had already fled the scene in a maroon minivan, police said. Authorities have described him as a Black man with curly medium-length hair and a beard.

After police said there was no indication that the shooting was motivated by hate, authorities concluded that two other recent shootings at Asian-run businesses may be connected, leading authorities to believe that the attacks could be hate crimes.

Police said witnesses reported that on the morning of April 2, a red minivan drove past a strip mall housing Asian-run businesses, just steps away from Hair World Salon. Shots were fired but no one was injured, the police chief said.

On Tuesday, a driver in a burgundy van or car drove past an Asian-run business across town and fired into the building, police said. Three people were inside but were in the back of the business and were not harmed, police said.

The next day, the shooting occurred at Hair World Salon. A witness told investigators that after the shooting, the gunman ran to a red, older-style minivan, jumped inside and sped away, police said in a statement.

“We need to get this person in custody,” Garcia told reporters late Friday afternoon. He said the police department will be increasing surveillance and patrols in areas that could be targeted, according to the Dallas Morning News.

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Hate crimes against Asian Americans have been on the rise in the United States since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Early last year, there was a surge of attacks in Northern California, including one in which an 84-year-old Thai man died after being shoved to the ground.

Then, a March 2021 shooting spree at three Atlanta-area spas left eight people dead, including six Asian women — sparking debate about whether the rampage, carried out by a White man, was considered a hate crime.

The shooter, 22-year-old Robert Aaron Long, was sentenced to life in prison.

Scenes in the aftermath of the Atlanta-area spa shootings

Other incidents have made headlines this year. In March, a 67-year-old Asian woman in New York was punched in the head and face more than 125 times, stomped and spit on in what authorities called a “brutal” hate crime. Surveillance video showed a man, identified by authorities as Tammel Esco, punch the woman from behind, knocking her down, then continue to beat her until she was writhing on the ground.

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Following the Dallas police chief’s announcement that the shooting at the Koreatown salon may be a hate crime, Mayor Eric Johnson (D) called that possibility both “chilling and deeply disturbing.”

“I want our city’s Asian American community — which has appallingly faced increasing vitriol in recent years — to know that the City of Dallas and the people of Dallas stand with them,” the mayor said in a statement.

John Jun, one of the founding members of the Korean American Coalition’s Dallas-Fort Worth chapter, told the Associated Press he had hoped the salon shooting was an isolated incident but now he is growing more concerned.

“It seems like they are targeting for sure Asian Americans and most likely Korean American businesses in the area,” he said.

Jun, who is also a city council member in the Dallas suburb of Coppell, told the AP that Koreatown, where the salon is located, used to be heavily industrial but was transformed in the 1980s and is now home to many shops, restaurants, markets, medical offices and salons. He said people there are “obviously shaken and they are on the edge right now.”

Dallas police have asked residents to be on the lookout and help them identify any possible suspects.