Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said the shooting may be a hate crime.
The shooting of three Korean women at a hair salon in the city’s Koreatown on Wednesday afternoon may be motivated by hate, Dallas police said, and may be linked to a series of recent shootings at businesses run by Asians in the city.
The victims of the shooting at Hair World Salon in a historically Asian neighborhood were all Korean women — the salon’s owner, an employee and a customer, according to ABC affiliate station WFAA in Dallas. The women suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to a local hospital, police said.
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said at a press conference Friday that initially police “had no indication that this crime was motivated by hate,” but from Friday after -noon, “that has just changed”.
Garcia said that amid the investigation, law enforcement “concluded that three recent shootings of Asian-run businesses may be related” and that the suspect in each incident was driving a similar vehicle.
The Dallas Police Department released a security camera image Thursday of the attacker dressed in all black running from the living room after the 2 p.m. shooting. The man appeared to be holding a semi-automatic rifle with an extended magazine.
Police said they learned from a witness report that an unknown black man parked what appeared to be “a dark colored minibus type vehicle” on Royal Lane and then walked through the car park to the establishment and allegedly opened fire as soon as he entered the living room.
“The suspect then fired multiple bullets inside the business, injuring all three victims,” police said.
Police also released a security image of a brown van in which they said the gunmen had fled the scene. The shooter was described by police as 5ft 7in to 5ft 10in tall, thin with curly hair and a beard.
Garcia said the shooting at the living room could be linked to a shooting that happened the day before and another that took place last month.
Police learned from witness reports that on April 2, a driver in a red van drove past a strip mall of Asian-run businesses and shot three businesses, but no one was injured.
And on Tuesday, a suspect in a burgundy van or car drove by and fired at Asian businesses near 4849 Sunnyvale Street, but no one was injured.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we reached out to our partners to let them know about the possible connection and ask for their help,” Garcia said. “This includes the FBI and member agencies of the Joint Terrorism Task Force. We are also working with North Texas law enforcement partners to determine if this criminal action took place or is taking place in their jurisdiction.
Garcia said police will increase the presence of high-visibility patrol officers in areas of the city where there are large Asian American populations.
“We look to every resident of the City of Dallas to keep an eye on and protect our city,” Garcia said. “Hate has no place here.”
These incidents in Dallas come amid a series of attacks targeting Asian Americans across the country that have increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The possibility that we are dealing with a violent, hate-motivated gunman is frightening and deeply disturbing,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said in a statement Friday.
“And I want our Asian American community — which has horribly faced an increase in vitriol in recent years — to know that the City of Dallas and the people of Dallas stand with them,” he added.