Suspect in Korean salon attack had ravings about Asians, says girlfriend
The man accused of shooting three Korean women at a Dallas hair salon last week had been admitted to several mental health facilities because of his delusions about Asians, his girlfriend told police, according to a affidavit under arrest warrant obtained on Tuesday..
Jeremy Theron Smith, who is black, faces three charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in Wednesday’s shooting, according to prison records.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Dallas Police Chief Eddie García described the attack as “a hate issue.” The leader initially said hate was not a factor in the shooting.
“It’s a hate crime,” García said. “Anyway, it’s showing up, I’m not here to say. I can tell you that I know our community considers it a hate crime, and I see it as a hate crime. »
The living room shooting came days before a Sunday shooting at a church in Laguna Woods, Calif., where a Texas-born doctor died while attacking a gunman who opened fire. Authorities say the shooter, born in China but a US citizen, was motivated by hatred against Taiwan. On Saturday, a white man shot and killed 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in a predominantly black neighborhood.
Dallas authorities allege Smith, driving a red 2004 Honda Odyssey, stopped his pickup truck on the 2200 block of Royal Lane before crossing the street with a .22 caliber rifle. He walked into Hair World Salon and started spinning, according to the affidavit. It is not known if Smith has an attorney.
Of the seven people in the living room, three were shot: one woman was shot in the forearm, another in the foot and another in the back, according to court records.
Authorities said the shooter fired 13 times before returning to his van and fleeing. A witness who saw part of the license plate on the van led authorities to the Smith, according to the affidavit. Police said they were tracking Smith within two days of the shooting and arrested him Monday in DeSoto.
Smith spoke with detectives without an attorney, according to the affidavit. Court records show he admitted the van belonged to him and that he was near the barbershop at the time of the shooting. Police say Smith told them he was looking for a company that could replace a broken glass plane.
The affidavit does not say whether Smith admitted or denied being the shooter. Public records list his age as 36 and 37.
Smith said he owned two firearms: a .380 handgun and a .22 caliber Kalashnikov-style rifle, according to court records. Police found the handgun in Smith’s pocket when they arrested him, police said. García said investigators are still determining whether Smith legally possesses the guns.
In an interview with detectives, Smith’s girlfriend said he had been raving about Asians since he was involved in a car accident about two years ago with an Asian man, according to the affidavit. .
Whenever Smith is with an Asian person, his girlfriend said “he begins to have illusions that the Asian mob is after him or trying to hurt him,” according to the affidavit. Smith had been “admitted to several mental health facilities” because of the delusions, his girlfriend told detectives.
He had also been fired from a previous job for “verbally attacking” his boss, who was Asian, the girlfriend told authorities.
Jail records show Smith was taken to the Dallas County Jail around 3 a.m. Tuesday. His bail was set at $300,000, according to prison records.
Shootings still under investigation
Police are also investigating two other shootings that targeted Asian-run businesses near the barbershop in the days and weeks before the attack. Police described a similarly colored van in all three incidents.
The first incident, on April 2, happened in the same mall as the hair salon where last week’s shooting took place. The second happened at a mall east of Oak Cliff on Tuesday, a day before.
No one was injured in the two shootings. García said detectives are still trying to determine if the crimes are connected.
One of the women who was shot in the attack said “it would be nice to live in a world without guns”.
She spoke at a town hall with members of the DPD leadership, including García, and members of the Korean American community in Dallas.
“I’m sure they’re necessary for people like law enforcement, but it would be nice if the bad guys couldn’t get guns,” said the woman, who was wearing a cast and sling. after undergoing hours of operation.
The woman did not reveal her name to the town hall and covered her face with a mask and sunglasses. She said she hoped the Korean community could become safer after the shooting.
“No one was killed in this incident, but the fact that it was a firearm incident is a big deal,” the woman said in Korean.
She said she was worried about her future and her ability to earn a living, given the injuries to her hand.
“We are very nervous. We are very tired,” she said.
On Tuesday, Dallas officers on bikes and cars patrolled the mall where the shooting took place.
Soon, Ok Chun, who worked at a clothing store there on Tuesday, said she prayed someone would be arrested soon. She said it was good to see the police and the community working together at City Hall to increase security at the mall.
Caroline Kim, whose mother operates Korea House, a restaurant near Royal Lane and Interstate 35E, asked City Hall on Monday what steps Dallas police and city leaders are taking to prevent attacks on Americans of Asian descent, pointing to an increase in hate incidents reported by the community. during the coronavirus pandemic.
“When we talk about community outreach, I know that my community affairs division does an absolutely outstanding job of trying to conduct as much outreach as possible in our community,” García replied. “And yes, we need to do more, there’s no doubt about that.”
Choi Tok Sun, 76, who attended the meeting, said she had driven from Fort Worth. She said she was unhappy with the responses the community got.
Choi said she hopes Dallas police do more to explain the law enforcement resources available to the Korean American community, including training. She said law enforcement could better explain the importance of reporting crimes.
“Sometimes members of the Korean community don’t report things that happen to them because of a cultural difference,” she said in Korean, adding that she hopes the shooting can be a wake-up call. for the community.
The number of hate incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the United States has increased since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a March 2021 report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University in San Bernardino, hate crimes reported to police in 18 major US cities, including Dallas, San Antonio and Houston, increased by 145% compared to 49 incidents in 2019. to 120 in 2020.
Between March 19, 2020 and December, Stop AAPI Hate recorded 10,905 self-reported hate incidents experienced by people from the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. A number of incidents go unreported.
Chinese and Korean Americans were the most represented groups in self-reported hate incidents, according to the California-based organization. Sixty-two percent of people who reported incidents were women, according to a March report by Stop AAPI Hate. Texas had the fourth number of incidents in the group’s tally, behind California, New York and Washington.
The Pew Research Center estimated in 2019 that about 41,000 Korean Americans lived in North Texas, making it the largest Quranic American population in the state. Many live in suburbs north of Dallas, including Carrollton, Coppell, and Richardson.
Writer Aria Jones contributed to this report.