Atlanta spa shootings: Illicit reviews raise red flags that shooter targeted vulnerable women

Written by on March 17, 2021


The suspect within the fatal shootings at three Georgia spas has informed authorities he blamed the therapeutic massage companies for offering an outlet for his dependancy to intercourse.

Robert Aaron Lengthy seen the spas as “a temptation that he wished to remove,” in keeping with a Cherokee County Sheriff’s Workplace spokesman.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms mentioned the spas weren’t on police’s radar: “So far as we all know in Atlanta, these are legally working companies.”

But, early indicators point out the companies could not have been totally above-board, leaving the ladies working there notably weak to abuse and violence.  

All three spas are listed on Rubmaps, an erotic evaluate website that permits customers to seek for and evaluate illicit therapeutic massage parlors. The positioning is the most well-liked of its type, the place patrons who name themselves “hobbyists” or “mongers” on the lookout for intercourse go to search out and share info, in keeping with a research by Polaris, a nonprofit group that operates the Nationwide Human Trafficking Hotline.

Aromatherapy Spa and Gold Spa, each in Atlanta, have round 100 opinions, many current. A evaluate for Gold Spa on March 9 indicated that it was “full service,” as did the same evaluate from 5 days prior. A evaluate for Aromatherapy Spa on March 2 additionally indicated intercourse was on the service record. Youngs Asian Therapeutic massage in Acworth, Georgia, has 39 opinions on Rubmaps, the newest posted in February.


Shootings at two therapeutic massage parlors in Atlanta and one within the suburbs Tuesday night left eight folks useless, lots of them ladies of Asian descent, authorities mentioned. A 21-year-old man was taken into custody in southwest Georgia. (March 17) AP Home

One of many eight victims, Xiaojie Tan, was listed because the proprietor of a restricted legal responsibility company related to Younger’s Asian Therapeutic massage. The LLC additionally owns Wang’s Ft & Physique Therapeutic massage, a spa in neighboring Kennesaw additionally listed on Rubmaps.

Atlanta-area spa shootings: Suspect officially charged after 8 people killed at 3 spas; most victims were Asian

The Rubmap opinions, coupled with promoting for 24-hour providers, are crimson flags, mentioned Elizabeth Kim, the chief working officer of Restore NYC, a nonprofit that works to offer housing and financial options for survivors of trafficking. 

“In New York, for example, loads of the illicit therapeutic massage companies are open tremendous late, or you may’t simply enter like a traditional enterprise – it’s important to be buzzed in,” Kim mentioned. “They’re screening for whether or not it’s a buyer or legislation enforcement or one thing like that.”

Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa are amongst a number of neighborhood companies frequented throughout late nights, in keeping with neighboring enterprise house owners; their clients and providers stay discreet behind blacked out home windows and parking heaps behind buildings. 

Gold Spa has a blacked-out glass door that prevents visibility from the surface. The home windows are hid by shutters that seem rusted. Not less than one set of window covers look like held along with duct tape. The one factor seen inside is an ATM close to the entrance entrance.

The institution has an LED signal out entrance that claims the enterprise is open 24/7. The parking areas are empty.

Two buildings to the best of Aromatherapy Spa is Craig Barnes’ G Salon, a day spa that opened on this Piedmont Heights neighborhood in 1999. Its providers embody conventional salon choices comparable to haircuts, hair coloring and perms, in addition to waxing, microdermabrasion, eyelash extensions and aromatherapy therapeutic massage. 

The spas and strip golf equipment that share this Atlanta thoroughfare with G Salon had been right here when Barnes arrived greater than twenty years in the past. The fast space features a Mexican restaurant and pizzeria, auto restore retailers, medical places of work, a psychic and condo lofts. 

“Twenty-one years, no points,” Barnes mentioned. “I’ve by no means met anybody, by no means seen anybody there (on the website of Tuesday’s capturing) in 21 years. They’re quiet. They don’t do enterprise on the similar time I do.”  

As Barnes shuts his doorways to clients at 7 p.m. on weekdays and 6 p.m. on Saturdays, the 24-hour spas are making ready for a rush of late-night clients. 

When Tuesday’s capturing occurred throughout night rush hour in Atlanta, Barnes was at his salon. Certainly one of his clients referred to as from throughout the road to cancel an appointment. Barnes informed her to not fear, his group members would watch for her – not realizing the streets had been blocked off.

“No, you don’t perceive,” the client informed Barnes. “Look out your door.”  

Although it’s nonetheless too early to know for sure that the spas had been illicit, Kim mentioned illicit parlors are inherently violent.

“During the last 12 years we’ve served over 1,000 Asian ladies who’ve labored in or been exploited in illicit therapeutic massage enterprise,” Kim mentioned. “We estimate that roughly 50% of these Asian purchasers who we’ve labored with have labored in illicit therapeutic massage companies that did meet the factors for trafficking.”

Asian People worry: Atlanta spa shootings increase fear in Asian communities amid increase hate incidents

Georgia legislation enforcement has indicated the crime was motivated by intercourse, not race. However advocates balked at such determinations at the moment.

“It’s not an either-or proposition. The racism and the misogyny and the violence are very a lot intertwined,” Kim mentioned. “I wouldn’t say we must always pivot to say it’s a crime solely in sexual nature and never of a racial nature and vice-verse. I don’t assume it’s truthful proper now to say it was one versus the opposite.” 

Catherine Chen, the chief govt officer of Polaris, factors to the lengthy historical past of exploitation of Asian ladies within the U.S., noting that the time period “Asian therapeutic massage parlor,” usually used to explain illicit therapeutic massage companies, could be anti-Asian.

“This complete concept which you can cut back Asian ladies all the way down to their sexuality that may be bought, that’s what’s behind the concept of an Asian therapeutic massage parlor,” Chen mentioned.

“We use the time period ‘illicit therapeutic massage enterprise’ as a result of what we’re attempting to get at is that in so many instances, in the end that is somebody who’s profiting off of the exploitation of girls. They usually run them as authentic companies.”

Chen says it is vital to acknowledge the dignity of the ladies, who could or could not have recognized the total extent of the companies the place they labored.

“They’re moms and wives and sisters and aunties,” Chen mentioned. “They’re actual full folks, and their households could or could not have recognized they had been on this state of affairs. To acknowledge their dignity although it is a tragedy that they ended up in.”

Mallory Rahman and her 4-year previous daughter, Zara, left flowers Wednesday on the steps of Gold Spa in Atlanta to pay respects to the ladies killed there. 

“I informed her that some folks had been harm right here that ought to not have been harm. Some folks had been harm by a foul particular person,” Rahman mentioned. “I do know she’s younger, however I additionally need to train her from a younger age.”

Contributing: Miguel Legoas, Dinah V. Pulver, Brenna Smith, Katie Wedell

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