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Even 'safe spaces' are no sanctuary from mass shooters

UniqueThis 5 May 16

Saturday's shooting, Newkirk said, was a sad reminder "there's no safe place for an African American to go where he might feel comfortable or safe in his own skin."

"It’s not about being safe about atrocities and violence, just being safe in your own skin," he said. "There’s no respite for our people.”

In Dallas, Joann Roh was still counting her blessings.

Roh, 50, runs Sura Korean Restaurant, which is next door to Hair World Salon, where an intruder burst inside last week and opened fire. The owner, an employee and a customer were wounded, police said. Early Tuesday, Dallas police announced a suspect had been arrested.

Both businesses are in an area that Dallas residents call Koreatown. And Roh said that while plenty of police were there immediately after the shooting, she hasn't seen many since then.

“We don’t feel a sense of heightened security after the shooting," she said. "I can’t help but wonder if it’s because we’re a Korean community.

“There was a police car that sat in front of our store for about 30 minutes on Thursday, so I was hoping they would be taking appropriate security measures. But there weren’t additional police cars on patrol afterward."

Senior Cpl. Melinda Gutierrez, a Dallas police spokeswoman, said “additional officers have been assigned and have been patrolling the neighborhood."

There's no denying that people in Koreatown are rattled, especially because it was the third in a string of shootings targeting Asian businesses in the city and police are investigating it as a possible hate crime.

Hair World Salon remained closed Sunday.
Hair World Salon remained closed Sunday.Raul Rodriguez for NBC News
A dried pool of blood can be seen through the glass inside Hair World Salon on Royal Lane in Dallas, Texas where a shooting occurred on May 11, 2022.
A dried pool of blood can be seen through the glass inside Hair World Salon in Dallas, where a shooting occurred Wednesday.Raul Rodriguez for NBC News

Roh said the salon owner often comes by for lunch or to wind down over dinner and chit-chat in their native tongue. She said her husband often got his hair cut at the salon. She said she is stunned that the shooting happened in broad daylight.

“We have CCTVs inside our restaurant, but not outside,” Roh said. “I wish we had more cameras to alleviate the customers’ fears."

Roh isn’t alone in her fears.

“This area hasn’t been safe these last few weeks,” said Jannett Temples, 21, an employee at Nuri Grill, a restaurant in the Asiana Plaza shopping center adjacent to where two of three recent shootings have taken place.

Outside Koreatown, others in Dallas were also feeling wary in the wake of the latest shooting.

“Normally, I would think I’m safe where I’m going, but clearly that’s not the case," said Tiffany Garrett, 29, who lives outside Dallas in the town of Lancaster. "I know I can’t stop living my life just because there are people out there who hate me just because of what I look like. It’s pretty traumatizing to think you can’t even go get some groceries or get your hair done.”

Garrett is Black.

In Southern California, the FBI opened a hate crimes investigation Monday, a day after a man described as a Chinese immigrant opened fire on the congregation at Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which shares a space with Geneva Presbyterian Church.

Describing it as a “politically motivated hate incident,” Orange County Sheriff Donald Barnes said the suspect, David Chou, 68, of Las Vegas, was apparently upset over the political tensions between his native land and Taiwan.

The gunman was heavily armed when he crashed a banquet for a pastor who had just returned from a trip to Taiwan, Barnes said. He took along Molotov cocktails and tried to glue the locks so the victims couldn’t leave.

An Orange County Sheriffs Officer places police tape around the exterior of the Geneva Presbyterian Church after a person opened fire during a church service, in Laguna Woods, Calif., on May 15, 2022.
An Orange County sheriff's officer places police tape around Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., after a person opened fire during a service Sunday.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
A first responder grief counselor comforts a parishioner after a person opened fire during a church service attended by a Taiwanese congregation, at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif., on May 15, 2022.
A grief counselor comforts a congregant after a person opened fire during a church service Sunday at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, Calif.Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

But the apparent attempt to commit mass murder was stymied by the bravery of Dr. John Cheng, 52, a physician, who charged at the gunman and tried to disarm him.

Cheng was killed and five other people were wounded before the congregants were able to disarm the gunman and hogtie him with extension cords.

“This is upsetting and disturbing news, especially less than a day after a mass shooting in Buffalo,” Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., whose district includes the church, said on Twitter. “This should not be our new normal. I will work hard to support the victims and their families.”

Burke reported from Buffalo, Hampton from Dallas and Park and Siemaszko from New York City.

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