A series of recent shootings at Asian-owned businesses in Texas has sparked a police manhunt for a gunman who authorities believe is intent on carrying out anti-Asian violence. Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia announced the alarming news at a Friday press conference, where he revealed that investigators now believe three recent shootings are connected—and motivated by bigotry.
“On Wednesday, I had given you an update on this case, and at that time in the investigation, we did not have any indication that this crime was hate-motivated,” Garcia said. “As of this afternoon, that has changed due to the continued investigation.”
An unidentified man dressed in black walked into the Hair World Salon in Dallas’ Koreatown neighborhood on Wednesday afternoon and shot two employees and a customer. A witness told police the suspect ran from the salon to a “red, older-style minivan and sped away westbound,” Garcia said. He was seen on surveillance video carrying what appeared to be a high-powered rifle.
The victims, all three of whom were Korean women, were taken to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police at first had said they did not believe the shooting was a hate crime.
A day earlier, someone in a “burgundy van or car” drove by an Asian-run business about 20 miles away and fired into the storefront. There were three people in the back of the building at the time, but none were injured, Garcia said.
A third shooting, which took place on April 2, is likely connected to the pair this week, according to Garcia. That morning, a man driving what witnesses described as “a red minivan,” drove past a row of Asian-run businesses at a Koreatown strip mall and fired into three of them. No one was hit by the gunshots, according to police.
“I don’t think we can just [tie] it to our Korean community, but our Asian community,” Garcia continued. “…Hate has no place here.”
Garcia said the Dallas PD, out of “an abundance of caution,” has “reached out to our partners to make them aware of the possible connection and ask for their assistance.” This includes the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, as well as other police departments in the state. The Dallas PD is meeting with members and business leaders in the local Asian community, and is in touch with the Anti-Defamation League, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, and the Mayor’s Anti-Hate Advisory Council, Garcia announced.
“I want our city’s Asian community—which has appallingly faced increasing vitriol in recent years—to know that the City of Dallas and the people of Dallas stand with them,” Johnson said in a statement released late Friday. “…This gunman must be arrested swiftly and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Dallas police will also be deploying truck-mounted surveillance cameras in certain areas, and is increasing uniformed patrols in areas with large Asian populations. Police described the suspect as a thin Black male with a connecting beard, standing approximately 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall.
A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the suspect’s arrest, and Garcia appealed to the public to report any tips they may have.
“There’s a lot of investigation that goes into this, and I guarantee you [that] we’ve got the best,” he said. “They are working extremely hard.”
Hate crimes against the Asian community jumped 339 percent nationwide in 2021, and had already increased sharply in 2020 compared to a year earlier. Anti-Asian violence in the U.S. surged with the spread of COVID-19, which first emerged in Wuhan, China. Last spring, an Atlanta man went on a shooting rampage at Asian spas around town, killing eight.