Mario González’s life was forever changed during last Tuesday’s shooting rampage across three Atlanta-area spas: His wife, Delaina Ashley Yaun, was killed at Young’s Asian Massage on what was supposed to be a date night, while González, who was in a separate room, listened to the gunfire.
Yet in the immediate aftermath of the devastating attacks, which left eight dead in total, González said the cops treated him like a suspect.
Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies handcuffed and detained him while he waited four hours to learn about his wife’s fate, according to the Spanish-language news website Mundo Hispánico, which interviewed González.
He wondered why police held him, according to the New York Times.
“Maybe because I’m Mexican, I don’t know,” González said before rolling back the sleeve of his jacket to show the handcuffs had left marks on his wrist. “Because truthfully, they treated me badly.”
His niece, Jessica Gonzalez, also told the Daily Mail she saw the way he was treated as “a racial thing.”
“He was the only one left in handcuffs,” she said.
Deputies were working to figure out the identity of the suspected gunman responsible for the March 16 attacks, according to the Times. Authorities later arrested Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old who’s since been charged with murder over the shooting spree that left six Asian women dead, drawing more attention to the recent wave of violence against Asian Americans.
For González, the shooting was devastating.
“They took away the most precious thing that I have in my life,” González told Mundo Hispánico. “That I had, because they already took her away from me. This murderer only left me with pain.”
The shooting began at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Georgia, just before 5 p.m., according to CNN. González told Mundo Hispánico that he and his wife had just arrived at the spa after getting off work, and were in separate rooms for their massages, according to the Times. He heard the gunfire, but was afraid to open the door.
González later found out that his wife, whom he married last year after meeting her at a Waffle House, had been killed, according to the New York Times. Yaun left behind a 13-year-old son and 8-month-old daughter.
A phone number for González was not immediately available. The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office—which also came under fire after its spokesman, Capt. Jay Baker, described Long as having “a really bad day” last week—did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
Three others—Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng—were killed at Young’s Asian Massage too. Michels was a U.S. Army veteran, according to the Times. Tan owned the business, and Feng was one of her employees.
The shootings then continued at Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa in Atlanta about an hour later, according to NPR. Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, and Soon Chung Park—all employees at Gold Spa—died, as did Yong Ae Yue, an employee of Aromatherapy Spa.
Reporter Nathaniel Janowitz contributing.