Unaware that his wife had been killed in another room of the Atlanta spa where they'd gone together for massages just before a shooting broke out, the woman's husband says police handcuffed and detained him for nearly four hours while they scrambled to locate and identify the gunman.
"And they knew that I was the husband," the man, Mario González, told the Spanish-language news site Mundo Hispánico. "They gave me the news that she was dead."
His wife, 33-year-old Delaina Ashley Yaun González, was among four people killed Tuesday at Young's Asian Massage near Acworth, a suburb of Atlanta, before the suspected gunman moved on to two more spa locations and allegedly killed four others before he was stopped.
González said did not understand why authorities treated him as they did, and then after removing him from the spa past bloody bodies, made him wait so long before telling him his wife's fate.
"Maybe because I'm Mexican, I don't know," he said. "Because the truth is, they treated me badly."
Six of the eight Atlanta shooting victims were Asian women. Authorities have said there's no evidence to suggest the suspected killer was motivated by racial bias, instead alleging he was motivated by guilt over a sex addiction. But the motive remains under investigation, and the killings occurred amid a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Investigators arrested Robert Aaron Long, 21, about two hours after the attacks in connection with the killings. He is charged with eight counts of murder and one count of assault, and has yet to enter pleas to those charges.
Long's attorney, J. Daran Burns, issued a statement last week, offering condolences to the victims and their families. He says he is working "to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident," adding, "Everybody is doing their jobs, both law enforcement and the district attorney's office. Now, our firm will conduct a thorough investigation on our client's behalf."
González said he and his wife had gone to Young's Asian Massage as a date after work, and were in separate rooms when he heard the gunfire. "I did not open the door out of fear," he told Mundo Hispánico. "[The police] arrived, but what did they do? Arrest me."
"I want to know if she is alive or dead. … They ignored me," he said. As he was taken away by deputies with the Cherokee County Sheriff's office, he said, "I just saw the people who work there who were lying — I don't know if they were dead, but they had blood."
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He said he asked but was not allowed to check on his wife, who is the mother of the couple's 8-month-old child and a 14-year-old son from a previous relationship. He said they told him his wife had died only after confirming the couple's relationship.
PEOPLE's call to the sheriff's office for comment was not immediately returned.
González and his wife, who married last year, had met at a Waffle House where she was a server and he was a customer, reports The New York Times.
"She felt tired from so much work … she worked daily," he told Mundo Hispánico.
"He left me with an 8-month-old girl," he said of the alleged killer. "What am I going to do? … We both worked to get ahead. … I have nothing."
A GoFundMe page created to help cover the family's expenses had raised more than $100,000 from 3,200 donors as of Monday.
The shooter "took away the most precious thing that I have in my life," González said.
"That murderer only left me pain," he added.
"The only thing left for me is to keep going, be strong and get on with it," he said.
To learn more and to report crimes, go to: Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Stop the AAPI Hate, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, and Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council.
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