Atlanta spa shootings victims remembered 3 years later

Leaders in Metro Atlanta’s Asian American community held a remembrance ceremony and call to action to honor the eight people who lost their lives in the Atlanta spa shootings on March 16, 2021. 

It started with a banner procession, then organizers read the names of the eight people killed, six of whom were Asian women. 

One of those victims was Michael Webb's former spouse, 49-year-old Xiaojie Tan.

"She worked hard, she was dedicated to her business. To see her work so hard and save, then to have her life cut short like that is something I think about every day," Webb said.

Xiaojie Tan (Supplied by family)

He says he came to Saturday’s ceremony to share her story three years later in hopes of preventing something like this from happening again.

"Because what we went through, nobody should have to go through," Webb said. 

Organizer Cam Ashling said they wanted people to understand the fight against Asian hate is still ongoing.

"I want them to not take it for granted, because something like this could happen to any one of our family members. It could happen to my mom, my sister, myself," Ashling said.

Eight people total were killed at three spa locations in Cherokee County and Atlanta on March 16, 2021.

Eight people total were killed at three spa locations in Cherokee County and Atlanta on March 16, 2021. (Supplied)

We asked her how well she thought state leaders have addressed Asian hate and gun violence in the three years since the shooting.

"Horrible. Yeah, I don't think we've gotten very far. We haven't gotten any kind of meaningful, safe gun legislation passed since then," Ashling said. 

Many young people participated in the ceremony, through musical numbers, speeches and even a traditional lion dance. 

Student organizer Tyler Lee is an 11th grader at Peachtree Ridge High School.

"I'm a Korean-American. My grandmother is a Korean-American. Some of the women that were shot and killed look like my grandmother, and I was extremely disheartened. So, I decided something needed to be done," Lee said.

Lee has worked to get stricter gun laws passed that he says might have helped prevent the 2021 shooting rampage.

Investigators have said shooter Robert Long bought a gun shortly before going on the killing spree.

Lee says young Asian Americans need to be a bigger part of the fight against hate.

"I truly believe that we will be the pioneers of what we expect to change in our society," Lee said. 

Ashling says they need the entire Atlanta community to stand together with them against this hate in order to make a real difference.

"We just all want to stand together, and we don't just want Asian Americans to stand together. We need other communities to stand with us, too," Ashling said. 

Organizers called on those in attendance to share their stories of discrimination and hate. 

They also called on people here and throughout the metro area to vote in upcoming elections and show how important fighting asian hate is to their elected officials.