Son of Atlanta Shooting Victim Calls ‘Bullshit’ on Sex Addiction Claim 1

ATLANTA—Randy Park said he learned of his mother’s murder while he was playing his favorite videogame, League of Legends, in their townhome in Duluth, Georgia.

It’s a short drive from the Atlanta spas where police say 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long shot and killed four Asian women shortly after he shot and killed four other people in a suburb north of the city, two of those victims also Asian women. While the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office has identified those killed and injured at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Atlanta police haven’t officially named the victims of the rampage at two local spas, Gold and Aroma Therapy.

But Park, 23, said he got a call that evening from the daughter of a survivor who had been next to his mother, Hyun Jung Grant, at Gold Spa when the shooting occurred.

“You see this stuff in TV shows and movies,” Park told The Daily Beast. “It’s surreal. But I have a younger brother that I have to take care of now, so as much as I want to be sad and grieve—and I am super sad—I have no choice but to move on. To figure out the whole living situation for probably the next year with my brother.”

She was a single mother of two kids who dedicated her whole life to raising them.

Randy Park

The Atlanta Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story. Grant’s name first appeared in The Korea Times Atlanta.

Park and his mother were “very close,” he said. “I could tell her anything. If I had girl problems or whatever. She wasn’t just my mother. She was my friend.”

She loved “dancing and partying,” he added. “She would always try to convince me to go out. She loved going to clubs. She loved Tiesto. She was like a teenager.”

Grant is her married name, he added. Park never knew his father.

Every night before she left for work, they would go for sushi at the Haru Ichiban on Satellite Boulevard, Park added. “It’s expensive, but it’s the best place around,” he said.

The shootings have stoked fear in the Asian-American community, which has withstood a wave of racist violence over the past year as the coronavirus pandemic overtook the country and right-wing figures from Donald Trump on down race-baited the outbreak.

Park said he was now looking at the problem through a very different lens.

“To be honest. I didn’t think it would happen to me,” he said, noting that apart from the occasional slur he encounters online, “nothing has happened to me personally—until now.”

Much of the national conversation about the shooting has centered on Cherokee County sheriffs apparently taking the suspect, a white kid from the suburbs, at his word that he was not motivated by racial animus. That dynamic was only worsened when, as The Daily Beast first reported, it was revealed the very official in that department perpetuating that narrative posted racist t-shirts that specifically targeted the Asian-American community.

Instead of racism, law-enforcement officials have said, the suspect has suggested he was motivated by his addiction to sex. Atlanta police on Thursday said he frequented the spas he attacked.

Park does not buy that explanation for a second.

“That’s bullshit,” he told The Daily Beast.

“My question to the family is, what did y’all teach him?” he added. “Did you turn him in because you’re scared that you’ll be affiliated with him? You just gonna scapegoat your son out? And they just get away scot free? Like, no, you guys definitely taught him some shit. Take some fucking responsibility.”

The Long family could not immediately be reached for comment.

For much of his life, Park didn’t know what his mother did for work, and the explanation offered by the suspect—coupled with the work of Internet sleuths—has sparked a conversation around whether sex work went on at any of the locations targeted.

The spas’ online presence suggest customers sought sexual services there. All have reviews or apparent ads on sites such as Rubmaps, BedPage, AdultSearch, RubRatings, EscortsAds, and/or The Erotic Review. Posts for Gold’s Spa in particular emphasized its “Latina & Blonde & Asian girls.”

But Park said he was shielded from anything like that by his mother.

“She would always tell me if anyone asks, that she works at a makeup parlor,” he said. “So that’s what I fronted to everybody. The truth was she worked at a massage parlor and I knew that for a fact because she admitted it to me after I looked it up online. I confronted her about it, because I was worried for her. It’s kind of shady. When I went there and saw it—I don’t want to say it was a bad looking place, but it matched the image in my head that I was worried about.”

Park said his mother “worked her ass off,” and that she told him she was an elementary school teacher in Korea before coming to America for “regular immigrant reasons.”

“And here in America, she did what she had to do,” he said. “She was a single mother of two kids who dedicated her whole life to raising them.”

Park said he tried unsuccessfully to go to the scene of the crimes in Atlanta, and that he still had not been contacted by local police. He did say he had received a call from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and in fact appeared to get another one while this reporter was present Thursday.

“I had to call the medical examiner to figure out the body retrieval situation, which I don’t want to talk about right now,” he added. “I really just want to put my mom to rest. I don’t want to do anything else.”