ATLANTA — As Georgia marks a tragic day in its recent history, its U.S. Senators are inviting people to remember the lives taken on March 16, 2021, in what's become known as the Atlanta area spa shootings.
"It was two years ago that a hateful act of violence shook metropolitan Atlanta, reverberated across our state, our nation and the world in a span of a few hours," Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock said on the Senate floor Wednesday. "Our sense of safety and sanctuary was ripped apart by bullets borne of hate and fear."
Warnock read the names of the victims in the U.S. Senate Chambers, noting their lives were unexpectedly cut short.
"Eight people lost their lives. Eight people loved by their families, their friends, their children," he said. "They should never become statistics."
The story continues after the memorial.
Atlanta spa shooting victims
Remembering the lives taken
- Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33
- Paul Andre Michels, 54
- Xiaojie Tan, 49
- Daoyou Feng, 44
- Soon Chung Park, 74
- Hyun JungGrant, 51
- Sun Cha Kim, 69
- Yong Ae Yue, 63
Two years ago, a gunman walked into three different spas in metro Atlanta and fired the fatal shots. Robert Aaron Long admitted to being the shooter. After shooting five people at Young Asian Massage in Cherokee County, investigators said he drove about 30 miles south to Atlanta, where he shot three women at Gold Spa and one woman across the street at Aromatherapy Spa.
Long plead not guilty in the Fulton County case, where he faces the death penalty. He pleaded guilty in his Cherokee County case and was sentenced to life without parole.
Warnock said the moments of hate changed lives forever.
"My heart aches for these Georgians and for their families for whom these wounds still fester," he said. "The comfort provided by a loving family is still not enough to fill the empty seat at the dinner table."
Warnock prayed for their souls before sending a message to his fellow lawmakers: communities still don't feel safe.
Watch Sen. Warnock's full remarks below. Story continues after the video.
"Importantly, I must mention this attack was met to harm Georgia's Asian American community," he said. "Unfortunately, this awful act that happened in Georgia is not isolated, but rather part of the same trend of growing hate and violence."
Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition of Asian American and Pacific Islander groups tracks and responds to incidents of violence, harassment and discrimination against AAPIs.
In its community-generated report, Two Years and Thousands of Voices, there were nearly 11,500 hate-related incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate. The reports are from March 19, 2020 through March 31, 2022 and include findings obtained in partnership with Edelman Data & Intelligence. Read the full report here.
In a pre-recorded message, Sen. Jon Ossoff echoed much of Warnock's statement, addressing that as Georgia memorializes the lives lost for a second year, people must also stand together in solidarity.
"Georgians stand united against hatred and bigotry," he said. "And in solidarity and support of Georgia's Asian American community."
Speaking to constituents, Warnock emphasized that this year is another reminder of how one another's safety is a communal responsibility.
"That terrible act of violence we witnessed on March 16, 2021, ought to remind us that we all have a stake in each other's well-being," he said. "That it is our duty to stay committed to a peace that recognizes that we are in this together."
Watch Sen. Ossoff's full message below.