Sun Cha Kim was “a fighter.”
After immigrating to the United States from Seoul, South Korea to provide for her family, the 69-year-old worked “two to three jobs” even though she spoke “very little English.” But the mother-of-two never complained, and was seen as a “rock” for her three grandchildren.
“Stay strong in life...when you’re happy, I’m happy,” she would tell her grandkids during weekly phone calls, according to a verified GoFundMe fundraiser.
Kim is one of the eight people fatally shot by 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long during a Tuesday rampage at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area, an attack that has stoked fears of anti-Asian violence. Authorities say Long, who is facing several charges, admitted to the killings but insisted his actions were motivated by sexual-addiction issues rather than race.
The Fulton County Medical Examiner on Friday released the names of four victims shot at Atlanta’s Gold Massage Spa and Aroma Therapy Spa, including Kim, 74-year-old Soon C. Park, 51-year-old Hyun J. Grant, and 63-year-old Yong A. Yue. The medical examiner concluded that Park, Grant, and Yue suffered fatal gunshot wounds to the head, while Kim died from a gunshot to the chest.
“My grandmother was an angel, to have her taken away in such a horrific manner is unbearable to think about,” Kim’s granddaughter said in a statement associated with the GoFundMe on Friday night. “As an immigrant, all my grandmother ever wanted in life was to grow old with my grandfather and watch her children and grandchildren live the life she never got to live.”
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday released the names of the other four victims, who were shot at Young’s Asian Massage, Long’s first target. According to CCTV, he spent an hour inside Young’s, in Acworth, before the shooting. Those victims have been identified as Daoyou Feng, 44; Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez, a 33-year-old mother-of-two who was on a date night with her husband; Paul Andre Michels, a 54-year-old business owner who had been married for over two decades; and Xiaojie Tan, a 49-year-old who appeared to own at least two massage parlors in Atlanta.
Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, a Hispanic man from Acworth, was shot at Young’s and is currently in the hospital for his injuries.
About an hour later, three people were found dead at the Gold Massage Spa in Atlanta, including Grant. Another person was fatally shot at the Aroma Therapy Spa across the road. Grant’s son, 23-year-old Randy Park, told The Daily Beast on Thursday that “she was a single mother of two kids who dedicated her whole life to raising them.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Kim moved to Atlanta over 15 years ago and lived at Gold Spa at the time of the shooting, where she would help feed and do laundry for employees.
“She was pure-hearted and the most selfless woman I knew,” Kim’s granddaughter added in the GoFundMe. “She represented everything I wanted to be as a woman, without an ounce of hate or bitterness in her heart. People that were close to me, knew that my grandmother was my rock.”
“To have her taken away as a perfectly healthy elderly woman by such a heinous crime broke my heart. I will never see her again but I am left with only happy memories of her and the beautiful life she lived,” the statement added.
While police have not released details about the victims or many specifics about Long’s alleged shooting spree, family and friends have provided details into the hard-working people who lost their lives.
Soon Park’s son-in-law, Scott Lee, said in an interview with the New York Times that the 74-year-old worked at Gold Spa and “got along with her family so well.” Lee added that she’d previously lived in New York, where many of her relatives still live, before moving to Atlanta.
In a statement provided to The Daily Beast, Yong Yue’s two sons described their devastation at the loss of their “beloved mother” and said “words cannot adequately describe our grief.”
“To all those who have reached out to provide support and words of encouragement, thank you. At this time, since the case has garnered so much attention, we are asking… the media and the public to please respect our family’s privacy while we grieve and while we make arrangements for our mother’s funeral,” the statement, issued by attorney BJay Pak, a former U.S. Attorney General for the Northern District of Georgia, said.
In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, her sons described their mom, a 63-year-old licensed massage therapist, as a hard worker. She was excited to go back to work after being laid off last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, they said.
Robert Peterson, 38, told the newspaper that his mom was the kind of caring person who would send someone flowers, food, or gifts with whatever leftover money she had saved. She loved movies, reading, and soap operas.
“My mother didn’t do anything wrong,” Peterson added. “And she deserves the recognition that she is a human, she’s a community person like everyone else. None of those people deserved what happened to them.”
Yue’s grandson, 24-year-old Alijah Peterson, also praised his grandmother in a Wednesday Facebook tribute, calling her “someone who saw my mistakes...and always let me know, that takes a true friend.”
“You made me such a better person, things I thought that weren’t wrong you’ve corrected in my best interest,” Peterson wrote alongside a photo of the pair. “I love you forever and you didn’t deserve this. Watch over and Protect me grandma.”