A man who survived the Atlanta spa massacre says authorities detained him before telling him his wife, Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, was killed in the shooting. Fear led Mario González to stay put in his room at Young’s Asian Massage when he heard shots ring out on Tuesday.
But when help arrived, he was treated as a suspect instead of a victim.
González told Mundo Hispánico that authorities assumed he was involved and handcuffed him, causing bruising to his wrists. He couldn’t say for certain if his mistreatment was because of his race. But he said that law enforcement did not seem to believe he was married to Yaun, who was white.
Officers from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department arrived at the scene just as González was running outside. Surveillance footage showed González handcuffed and sitting on the curb in front of the shop before he was placed in the back of a squad car.
González said he was detained for hours before anyone told him about his wife. During the interview with Mundo Hispánico, González explained that the couple had booked massages at Youngs Asian Massage.
González and Yaun were getting massages in separate rooms when he heard gunshots. Yuan’s mother Margaret Rushing said the night out was supposed to be a treat for them both.
“She wanted a day just her and her husband, spend a little time together, all she wanted was their massages,” Rushing said during an interview with CBS 46.
Authorities have released the names of the eight victims: Yuan, Paul Andre Michels, 54, Xiaojie Tan, 49, Daoyou Feng, 44, Soon Chung Park, 74, Hyun JungGrant, 51, Suncha Kim, 69, Yong Ae Yue, 63.
Visibly upset during his interview with Mundo Hispánico, González said he didn’t know what he would do without his wife. The couple recently had a baby. A mother of two, Yuan was described by her family as a caring person who would do anything for anyone around her.
As the investigation continues to unfold, questions about officers detaining González could raise a flag. An employee from a nearby business told the Daily Mail that he offered aid to González after the tragedy.
“Mario looked at me and he told me his wife was still inside. He told me to tell the police,” said Alex Acosta, a worker at Gabby’s Boutique located near the spa. When Acosta’s wife told an officer that Gonzalez’s wife was still inside the spa, the cop replied, “I know.”
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department came under fire Wednesday for downplaying the role of race and gender in the killings by claiming the suspect was having a “bad day.” Later that day news broke that Captain Jay Baker, the spokesman for the department, shared Facebook posts about anti-Asian shirts at the start of the pandemic.
Anoa Changa is a movement journalist and retired attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow Anoa on Instagram and Twitter @thewaywithanoa.
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