Dallas barbershop shooting suspect had ravings about Asians, police say


An image shows the suspect in the shooting at the Hair World Salon in Dallas on May 11, 2022. Dallas Police/via REUTERS

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May 17 (Reuters) – A Dallas man suspected of shooting three women in the Koreatown neighborhood last week harbored illusions about Asians, police officials said on Tuesday, as the FBI opened an investigation into the hate crime attack.

Police identified the suspect as Jeremy Theron Smith, 36, and convicted him of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Smith, who is black, was being held in the Dallas County Jail.

Since an accident involving an Asian man two years ago, “Smith has had panic attacks and delusions when he’s with someone of Asian descent,” the Dallas Police Chief told reporters. Eddie Garcia.

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Garcia said it was too early to tell if mental health may have been a factor in the shooting.

“I can tell you that I know our community views this as a hate crime,” Garcia said. “I see it as a hate crime, and so do our men and women.”

The FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice have opened a federal hate crime investigation into the incident. Garcia said state prosecutors could also bring hate crime charges against Smith.

The Texas incident echoed last year’s shootings in the Atlanta area that targeted Asian women, sending waves of fear and mistrust through the Asian American community.

Attacks on people of Asian descent have escalated across the country since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, fueled in part by rhetoric blaming China for the spread of the virus, say advocates for Asian-American communities .

The shooter, armed with a .22-caliber rifle, entered the Hair World Salon last Wednesday, opened fire and injured the owner, a stylist and a client, police said. All three were women of Korean descent. They were taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries and are recovering.

Four other people who were in the living room at the time of the shooting were not injured, Garcia added.

He said investigators were able to piece together evidence linking Smith to two prior shootings targeting Asian businesses in the Dallas area. In all three shootings, a red van was spotted near the crime scene.

Surveillance video helped police find vehicle identification, including a luggage rack and a sticker on the bottom of the rear windshield, authorities said.

Smith has not yet been charged in the other two shootings, which took place last week and in early April, and investigators are still working on those cases, he said.

The Dallas-area Korean American community ranks among the largest in the United States, according to the Pew Research Center, and Koreatown is the historic center for Asian and Asian American residents of the region.

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Reporting by Maria Caspani and Tyler Clifford in New York; additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Susan Heavey, Chizu Nomiyama, Mark Porter, David Gregorio and Cynthia Osterman

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