Korean women shot at Dallas hair salon speak out

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In 2019, two women opened Hair World Salon in Dallas’ Koreatown. Years ago, they had moved to the United States to give their children a life outside of the unforgiving South Korean education system and believed that hard work would guarantee a successful life in this new country. But soon after the show opened, the coronavirus hit, shutting down and then slowing business for nearly two years.

On May 11, as business began to pick up for them, a gunman entered the living room and fired about 13 rounds, Dallas police said: He injured three Korean women in front of four others before returning to his car and speed up. a way. The shooting is being investigated as a hate crime, and law enforcement officials say two other recent shootings at Asian-run businesses in Dallas may have been linked.

The salon’s two co-owners, MJ, 50, and CJ, 44, were shot dead. They spoke to the Washington Post on the condition that only their initials be used because they feared further violence.

“The trauma, the memories, can never be erased from my life,” MJ said. She added that she now lives in fear, pain and trauma – a word she repeated several times during an hour-long interview. “Gun violence must stop.”

The United States continues to face an upsurge in discrimination and violence against Asians and Asian Americans, as well as the unrelenting reality of mass shootings. Last year, on March 16, 2021, a gunman stormed three spas in the Atlanta area, killing eight women, including six of Asian descent. After the Dallas Hair World attack, 10 black Americans were killed in a Buffalo grocery store on May 14. The following day, six people were shot, one fatally, during a Taiwanese American church service in Orange County, California.

And on Tuesday, as MJ spoke out against gun violence in an interview with The Post, 19 children and two teachers were fatally shot at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, about 350 miles from Dallas.

What we know about the victims of the shooting at a school in Uvalde

For MJ, the constant threat of shooting shattered the dream she had of America when she emigrated in 2006. Although she is grateful for the education her two children received in the United States, she said she had a lot of regrets.

“Honestly, I never dreamed that I would get shot,” MJ said. “In America, people’s memories fade of gun violence and its victims. But for us, it has an impact on our future.

MJ said she was about to dry her client’s hair when she saw the shooter walking towards her salon. She ran to the door to close it, but without saying a word he fired immediately, she said.

As she said, “It went like a movie. Mental stress is very difficult to bear.

She was shot in her right forearm. She has had one operation so far and will need another; doctors told her she would likely need a year of physiotherapy to recover. Until then, she doesn’t know how she’s going to earn money and pay salon rent, among other expenses, if she can’t use her arms to work.

“We raised children; this is the age when we prepare for our future,” she said. “I don’t know what it will be like for us. Hopefully we can get back to normal, where we are working hard and doing our best.

MJ has not told anyone close to her in Korea about the shooting, she said, including her mother, who is not in good health: “I’m afraid that if my mother finds out that I was shot, it will kill her and send her to an early grave,” she said.

The shooting was covered by Korean media, MJ added: “My relatives called to ask if it was me, but I denied it.”

Salon co-owner CJ was shot in the feet: A bullet entered her right foot, then pierced her left before exiting, she said. As a hairstylist on her feet all day, she doesn’t know how she will be able to work again.

In the meantime, the living room, which has attracted attention as a crime scene, is temporarily closed.

On May 17, Dallas police charged Jeremy Smith, 36, with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Police Chief Eddie Garcia said Smith was involved in a car accident with an Asian man several years ago, whom he blames for “panic attacks and delusions when around someone of Asian descent,” reported The Post.

For MJ, hearing that the alleged shooter was claiming to be a victim traumatized by Asians is hard to bear. “There’s no reason for us to agree to this,” she said, adding that she believed increased police presence would help make the city safer and that tougher penalties for shooters would be dissuasive.

A year after the Atlanta shooting, Asian women live in fear: “How are we all going to stay safe?

The weeks that followed were also painful for 40-year-old beautician HK, who was performing a facial on a client in an indoor room and avoided being hit when she heard the gunshots. It was her very first day working at Hair World. She also spoke on the condition that only her initials be used as she feared further violence.

“I still dream of [the shooting] – in the middle of the night, [I’m] waking up crying,” HK said. Bullets lodged in the wall of the room where she worked.

Because the salon is closed, she took another job; her rent is high, she says, and she has a dependent son. She works at a Korean restaurant in a nearby mall.

The other gunshot victim did not want to be interviewed or named. But her son, John Park, a doctor in New York, said he continued to worry about her. She was getting a perm when the shooter walked in, Park said. She was hit in the upper buttocks before the bullet exited, fracturing her sacral bones but missing the end of her spinal cord.

“She dodged a complete centimeter paralysis,” said the 34-year-old internist. As soon as his mother was shot, she called him. As he sat in a Starbucks in Manhattan where he had studied for his medicals, he recalled all the trauma rotations he had done.

“I thought that was the last time I spoke to him,” Park said. “Every gunshot patient I saw as a resident died.”

After rushing to Dallas that night, he and his wife met his mother at the hospital the next morning, where they washed the chemicals for her perm from her hair; they had burned his scalp for hours.

“She lost 60% of her blood. She almost died. She was in shock,” Park said.

His mother was lucky enough to have health insurance, he added. Shortly after the shooting, Park launched a GoFundMe campaign to help the other two women. Yet he is more concerned about the mental health of his mother and other victims, a subject that is not always a priority in the Korean immigrant community.

The memory of the gunman bursting into the living room haunts her, Park said; she has trouble sleeping. Park used to call her once a month, and she always answered right away, happy to hear from her. Now he calls several times a day to see her, mostly because she doesn’t often answer, he said. When she does, she tells him that she is depressed.

On Tuesday, he called home to speak to his mother and mentioned the shooting in Uvalde. His father yelled at him for bringing it up, Park said. Her mother told her that she cried for 20 or 30 minutes when she heard the news.

“It really ruins families,” Park said. “Hate crimes not only destroy the injured person, but also the people around them. They should not be tolerated or forgotten. »

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