Authorities now believe that a series of three recent shootings at Asian-owned businesses in Dallas may be connected and possibly motivated by hate.
After the most recent attack Wednesday, where a man opened fire inside a hair salon in Dallas's Koreatown, injuring three Korean women, Dallas Police Chief Edgardo Garcia said, "We can confidently say that hate was not a motivating factor.”
However, in a press conference Friday, the chief said that authorities did not have any indication at the time that the three shootings were linked. But after reviewing the incidents, he said they appear to be connected, partly because a similar vehicle was seen in all three shootings.
"There is a possibility that this could be hate-motivated," Garcia said Friday.
After Wednesday's shooting at the Hair World Salon, located in a shopping center where many Korean Americans own businesses, witnesses reported seeing the suspect speed away in a "red older-style minivan," police said.
Authorities are still searching for the suspect, described as "a Black male approximately 5'7" to 5'10", with a thin build, curly medium-length hair and a connecting beard." The three women who were shot inside the salon suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
A day before the attack at the hair salon, a man seen in a "burgundy van or car" drove by and shot into Asian businesses, police said. Three people who were in the building were not injured. And a month before these two shootings, on April 2, a man inside a "red minivan" drove past a strip mall of Asian-run businesses and fired shots at three of them. No one was injured in the shooting.
Authorities are asking the community for help in identifying the suspect. Garcia said every patrol station has been advised to increase visibility patrols "in areas of our Asian communities," and police will be utilizing camera trailers in certain areas to safeguard the community.
"Hate has no place here," Garcia said, adding that Dallas police had notified the FBI and other Texas police agencies, as well as the Anti-Defamation League and the mayor's Anti-Hate Advisory Council.
Apart from Wednesday's shooting, where the shooter reportedly yelled something inside the salon before opening fire, the other two drive-by shootings "had no reason whatsoever," Garcia said, adding that it looked like something "other than a random act."
"We need to get this person into custody," the chief said.
The hair salon's owner, Chang Hye Jin, who was shot in her left foot, told NBC News that she was sure the attack was a hate crime.
"It especially feels targeted because he didn’t even demand money," she said. "He just came in to shoot people.”
The Dallas shootings follow a disturbing wave of anti-Asian violence across the country. In March, a man in New York City was charged with hate crimes after allegedly attacking seven Asian women within a two-hour span on a single day. Less than a month before that, a man followed a 35-year-old Korean American woman into her New York City apartment and stabbed her to death. And last March, a man fatally shot six Asian women at Atlanta-area spas. The massacre occurred just hours after Stop AAPI Hate — an organization that tracks reports of hate and discrimination incidents against AAPI people — released a report showing a massive spike in violence against Asian Americans coinciding with the rise of the coronavirus pandemic.
Official statistics on hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are not always accurate; one report found that AAPI people were less comfortable than other races reporting such incidents to the authorities. The Stop AAPI Hate report released last March documented more than 10,000 hate incidents against AAPI people from March 2020 to December 2021.