Things That Matter

Latino Man Whose Wife Died In Atlanta Spa Was Handcuffed, ‘Treated Like A Suspect’

As we continue to learn more about the attack on Atlanta’s Asian-American community that left eight dead, we also are learning about Mario González – a survivor of the attack who was treated like a suspect by the Cherokee Sheriff Department.

Despite having lost his wife in the gunfire, police refused to share that news with González as he was handcuffed for hours amid the chaotic scene that was unfolding in the Atlanta suburbs.

A survivor of the Atlanta spa attacks says he was treated like a suspect instead of a victim.

The Latino man and husband who survived the Atlanta spa shootings that killed his wife says cops treated him like a suspect instead of a grieving victim — keeping him handcuffed for hours without telling him his spouse was dead.

“They had me at the police station for all that time until they investigated who was responsible or what had happened,” Mario González said during an interview with the Spanish-language news site Mundo Hispanico. “In the end, they told me my wife had died.

“They knew I was her husband,” Gonzalez said. “Then they told me she was dead when I wanted to know before. I don’t know, maybe because I’m Mexican,” he said. “Because the truth is that they treated me very badly.”

Law enforcement hasn’t responded to the allegations but are already facing severe backlash.

Representatives for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Sunday, but the accusations leveled by Mr. González come after the agency had already faced scrutiny after a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office described the gunman as having “a really bad day.”

The spokesman, Capt. Jay Baker, was no longer the office’s public representative on the case, and the sheriff, Frank Reynolds, apologized and defended Captain Baker as not intending to disrespect the victims or their families. “We regret any heartache Captain Baker’s words may have caused,” Sheriff Reynolds said.

González and his wife had been on a date night when the massacre took place.

The couple had arrived to Young’s Asian Massage for a fun date night, where they’d both enjoy a relaxing massage. They arrived shortly before the shooting started, Mr. González said in the video interview, and they were ushered into separate rooms for their massages.

Mr. González had met Ms. Yaun at a Waffle House restaurant, where he was a customer and she was a server. Ms. Yaun had been a single mother, raising a 13-year-old son. The couple married last year and had a daughter, who is now 8 months old. “What I need most right now is support,” Mr. González said in the interview.

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