With arrest made, Dallas community reacts to hate crime investigation in Asian salon attack

·5 min read

The possibility that last week’s shooting at a Korean hair salon in Dallas may be part of a series of racially motivated attacks on the Asian-American community is “chilling and deeply disturbing,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said in a statement.

“I want our city’s Asian-American community — which has appallingly faced increased vitriol in recent years — to know that the City of Dallas and the people of Dallas stand with them,” Johnson said in his statement Friday. “Hate has no place in our city. This gunman must be arrested swiftly and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Dallas police announced Tuesday morning that a suspect in the salon shooting is in custody and said further details will be released later today.

On Monday night, at a community public safety meeting held at the city’s Korean Cultural Center, one of the three women injured in the shooting at Hair World Salon spoke to a crowd that included generations of Dallas Asian-Americans, Star-Telegram media partner WFAA-TV reported.

Through a police interpreter, the salon employee, who wore an arm sling and cast, said she was shot three times but was feeling better.

“She feels really energetic now, and she feels really positive that this meeting is happening,” the police interpreter said, according to WFAA. “Right now, she said she’s dealing with trauma and grief. But she’s happy that we’re all here and that the community is giving support. She’s also asking for prayers. She’s not asking for generosity but needs help. Her business is closed and hasn’t been able to open, and she needs the support.”

This photo shows a shattered mirror inside Hair World Salon Thursday, May 12, 2022 in Dallas. Dallas’ police chief said Friday, May 13, 2022 that a shooting that injured three women in a hair salon in the city’s Koreatown might have been a hate crime as he announced that it could be connected to two other shootings at businesses run by Asian Americans. (Rebecca Slezak/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
This photo shows a shattered mirror inside Hair World Salon Thursday, May 12, 2022 in Dallas. Dallas’ police chief said Friday, May 13, 2022 that a shooting that injured three women in a hair salon in the city’s Koreatown might have been a hate crime as he announced that it could be connected to two other shootings at businesses run by Asian Americans. (Rebecca Slezak/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

Police Chief Eddie Garcia said at a news conference Friday that the May 11 shooting — in which the owner, an employee and a customer of the salon were shot — may be connected to two drive-by shootings that targeted Asian-American-owned businesses on May 10 and April 2. The shooter in each incident drove a similar vehicle, police said.

Garcia said his department was deploying more officers to patrol Asian-American communities in Dallas. The FBI and other federal agencies also have opened a hate crime investigation.

Prior to Tuesday’s announcement of an arrest, John Jun, the vice chair of the Korean American Coalition of Dallas-Fort Worth, told the Star-Telegram the Korean and general Asian-American communities in the area were worried but felt that police were responding seriously to the threat.

“There is a sense of insecurity and uneasiness, not only among the owners but also the visitors that come and visit and shop and dine throughout the year in Koreatown,” Jun said. “Everyone is on the edge, nervous, especially the business owners. They’re out there all the time, pretty much all day, Monday to Sunday, and there’s concern not just among the owners but the customers.”

Jun said the Korean-American community in Dallas noticed an increased police presence almost immediately after Garcia announced that there was a possible connection between the shooting at the hair salon and the two drive-by shootings.

He’s also seen support from others in the greater community, whether it be from groups like the Chinese or Jewish communities or from people in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex at large, who are asking for ways they can show support to Korean Americans affected by the violence.

“We really appreciate that people realize this is a community issue, not just something that affects one ethnic group but the entire community at large,” Jun said.

He added that Koreatowns like those in Dallas and Carrollton have been fortunate not to see violence against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic as he said many in the community heard about in California and New York. There is concern within the community that this could be an extension of that violence, but most feel positively that these attacks have not been a coordinated effort to target a specific ethnic group and that if the shooter is captured, things can return to normal.

There will likely be an increased sense of caution for years to come, Jun said, but the fear felt by many in the community can be temporary.

Dallas police say the man in this still from a surveillance video is suspected of walking into a Korean hair salon on May 11, shooting three women and fleeing to a maroon minivan.
Dallas police say the man in this still from a surveillance video is suspected of walking into a Korean hair salon on May 11, shooting three women and fleeing to a maroon minivan.
This photo shows the exterior of Hair World Salon in Dallas on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Police searched Thursday for a man who opened fire inside the hair salon in Dallas’ Koreatown area, wounding three people. Authorities do not yet know why the man shot the three female victims Wednesday afternoon at Hair World Salon, which is in a shopping center with many businesses owned by Korean Americans. (AP Photo by Jamie Stengel)
This photo shows the exterior of Hair World Salon in Dallas on Thursday, May 12, 2022. Police searched Thursday for a man who opened fire inside the hair salon in Dallas’ Koreatown area, wounding three people. Authorities do not yet know why the man shot the three female victims Wednesday afternoon at Hair World Salon, which is in a shopping center with many businesses owned by Korean Americans. (AP Photo by Jamie Stengel)

Haltom City Mayor An Truong, a Vietnamese American, said he does not believe the attacks on Asian businesses are linked to a widespread ideology but instead “a few bad apples.”

He said in his city, some business owners, especially those of nail salons, have complained to him that customers are coming into their stores, getting their nails done and then leaving and refusing to pay. The owners of the shops don’t want to be too confrontational, Truong said, but more often they are getting the police involved in issues like this. But he said he doesn’t know of any violent crimes targeting Asian Americans within his community.

Truong said one important thing to do is get together as a greater community to stand up against hate crimes against Asian Americans.

“This is not acceptable,” Truong said. “We need the community to get together, including all the ethnic group leaders, to see what we can do together.”

Police in Fort Worth, Carrollton, Garland, Grand Prairie and Arlington, which all have large Asian-American communities, told the Star-Telegram they haven’t seen any hate crimes targeting those communities recently.