One of the ongoing issues surrounding the Atlanta massage parlor shootings has been whether or not the shooter was motivated by anti-Asian bias or, as he told police, by sex addiction. There is some evidence supporting the sex addiction claim. The suspect was at a Christian treatment facility and had conversations with his roommates about his inability to conquer his sex addiction. Meanwhile, evidence of a racial motive (six out of eight victims were Asian Americans) hasn’t turned up even after investigators went through the suspect’s phone and his computer.
But there was one piece of evidence that seemed to point in the direction of a racial motive. It came from a Korean taxi driver who told Korean language media that, he’d been told by workers at the site that the shooter had said, “I will kill all Asians,” before the attack. But according to a story by NBC News, that couldn’t be verified. In fact, it’s explicitly at odds with the story of two survivors from Gold Spa, one of the massage parlors targeted.
There has been an outcry online that mainstream media is ignoring reports of allegations published in Korean-language media, which state that a local taxi driver told reporters he heard from nearby workers that the shooter said, “I will kill all Asians,” before committing the crime.
The taxi driver repeated this account to NBC Asian America, but NBC was not able to independently verify these reports with the business managers.
Both survivors said they did not hear the shooter say anti-Asian statements at their spa.
“He was silent,” Kang said. “He didn’t ask for anything. He simply came to kill. He came to murder in cold blood those who held nothing against him.”
Eunji Lee, who was taking a nap in a back room when the shooting started, told NBC News, “He didn’t say a word. I think that alone shows how premeditated and bent on a motive he was.” Kang and Lee hid and avoided being hit, though the shooter did fire twice in Kang’s direction.
The taxi driver’s story reminds me of something similar that happened after the Pulse nightclub shooting. After the shooting, several people claimed that Omar Mateen was gay, was a regular at Pulse. One man (Miguel) even claimed he was Omar’s lover and that the attack had been the result of Mateen seeking revenge for possibly becoming infected with AIDS. But a detailed investigation by the FBI and media outlets found no evidence Omar was gay or had ever used gay dating apps as some had claimed.
Two weeks after Mr. Mateen barged into the Pulse nightclub on June 12 and opened fire on the crowd, leaving 49 people dead and another 53 wounded, investigators are still trying to determine the underlying motive for the slaughter. Although federal officials have said Mr. Mateen had become radicalized to some extent online, at least half a dozen men have come forward with claims that hint at another potential motive, reporting that they had seen Mr. Mateen at gay clubs, encountered him online or had romantic encounters with him.
The claims have prompted investigators to look into whether Mr. Mateen, who had called 911 pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, was also a closeted gay man consumed by feelings of self-loathing and revenge.
F.B.I. investigators, who have conducted more than 500 interviews in the case, are continuing to contact men who claim to have had sexual relations with Mr. Mateen or think they saw him at gay bars. But so far, they have not found any independent corroboration — through his web searches, emails or other electronic data — to establish that he was, in fact, gay, officials said.
The point is that after a significant event like a mass shooting, a lot of people come forward with stories that can’t be backed up. That was the case with Omar Mateen and it appears to be the case with the Atlanta shooter who, according to two women who survived the attack, was notably silent during the shooting.