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Gov. Holcomb calls for flags to be at half-staff for Atlanta spa shooting victims

Robert Aaron Long allegedly killed eight people in the attacks and a ninth person was wounded.

INDIANAPOLIS — NOTE: The above video is from a VERIFY report on some of the claims surrounding the Atlanta shootings.

Gov. Eric Holcomb is calling for flags across the state to be flown at half-staff for the victims of the Atlanta spa shootings. His order comes after President Joe Biden ordered flags to be flown at half-staff Monday, March 22. Holcomb is asking Hoosiers and Indiana businesses to also lower their flags.

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Atlanta Friday to meet with Asian American leaders.  

Police said 21-year-old gunman Robert Aaron Long specifically targeted the spas and was planning to continue his shooting spree when he was arrested. 

Eight people were killed in the attacks and a ninth person was wounded. The victims — many of them Asian women — were wives, mothers, and spa employees.

Cherokee County officials released the names and ages of the four victims killed at Young's Asian Spa, along with the lone survivor of the attack. 

Their names were Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, of Acworth; Paul Andre Michels, 54, of Atlanta; Xiaojie Tan, 49, of Kennesaw; and Daoyou Feng, 44. 

Elcias Hernandez Ortiz, 30, is still hospitalized.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office released the names of the four victims killed at Gold Massage Spa and Aromatherapy Spa, both off Piedmont Road. Their names were Soon C. Park, 74; Hyun J. Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong A. Yue, 63.

There has been a huge increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans in the United States. 

According to the Center for Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, the crimes have increased 149 percent from 2019 to 2020 in 16 of the country's largest cities. Researchers looked at the crimes being committed since the start of the pandemic, including 4,000 incidents reported from last March through the first three months of this year.

Most of the incidents involved verbal harassment and shunning Asian Americans.

Some of them, according to media reports have happened in Indiana, including two men who were reportedly turned away from a hotel in northern Indiana after being asked if they were from China. In another incident, an Asian American doctor was reportedly refused service at a gas station after he was accused of being responsible for the coronavirus.

"To have a health care worker turned away from getting gas at a gas station because he was accused of bringing coronavirus and accused of...being scapegoated for the pandemic, is pretty shocking to me,” said University of Michigan professor Melissa Borja. 

RELATED: Chinese woman, 76, beats back attacker in San Francisco

Borja helped write a petition, sent last week to Governor Eric Holcomb from the Indiana Chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum. The petition had more than 2,000 signatures, including some from Indiana lawmakers, as well as the backing of more than 30 organizations. 

It called on Holcomb to publicly recognize and condemn acts of hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, as well as put in place programs and procedures to support these communities and establish a statewide advisory committee for AAPIs. 

"There's no place for it. Not just in Indiana, but in the country and fortunately we have some legal recourse for those who have been wronged," the governor said in his weekly media briefing on Wednesday, when asked about the petition. 

Holcomb issued a statement Thursday that referenced his 2019 bias crime law:

"Anyone that seeks to terrorize or cause fear needs to be held accountable for that. Racism is counter to Hoosier values. It's not what we stand for. I championed and signed a historic bias crimes law in 2019 to protect those who are the target of these crimes and to take a strong stand against targeted violence. There is no higher priority than the safety and security of Hoosiers."

"The fact that he doesn't name Asian Americans in that statement is to me a missed opportunity to show that he cares about Asian Americans at this time when Asian Americans are grieving the death of many Asian American women in Atlanta," Borja said. 

The Indiana State Senate passed a resolution Thursday denouncing anti-Asian and Pacific Islander racism and any form of bias crime in Indiana resulting from the coronavirus.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett released a statement on the Atlanta killings:

“Like many in our community, I was appalled at the vicious attack in Georgia earlier this week, in which eight people were murdered, many of whom were of Asian descent. The attacks come on the heels of a year in which Asian immigrants and Asian Americans have endured hateful rhetoric, accusations, and actions.
"In Indianapolis, we know that diversity is our strength, and we aim to lift up and support residents of Asian descent in every neighborhood. Whether you’re from our thriving Burmese population, or belong to other Asian communities in our city, we stand with you.”

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