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Scream mask robbers target Asian salon

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Image courtesy of Google Maps
Image courtesy of Google Maps

A chilling robbery at King Way Salon on Sunday, October 17, had patrons screaming. Just an hour before closing, at 6 p.m., three suspects concealed by Scream masks entered the store. Immediately, one of the suspects pointed a pistol at the hairdressers, demanding money.

Photo courtesy of King5  

According to salon owner Jenny, the robbers cleared out all the cash in the registers but were not satisfied. On their way out the door, they held all the customers and salon workers at gunpoint, taking their money, wallets, and car keys as well. "When I think about it, I'm still scared right now," she told KING-5 News shortly after the robbery.

The three suspects fled in a vehicle, and despite several surveillance cameras capturing the terrifying event, they are still at large. We reached out to the Seattle Police Department for a statement about the incident, but they refused to comment.

King Way Salon has since upgraded its security system and locks, but even that is not enough to calm the fears of both workers and customers. For many, surviving such a terrifying ordeal would warrant taking some time off to process and maybe get connected with a therapist. But for Jenny, time off is not an option. "I have to work no matter what. I have four daughters. I have to take care of them."

Workers at the salon hope press coverage of the incident can help police identify the suspects and bring them into custody. But they also fear they may lose possible customers over safety concerns.

While clients may have their worries, a repeat incident is unlikely. Jenny has been in business for over twenty years and has never experienced an incident like this. While the encounter was frightening, all the hairdressers in the salon kept their composure and continued calmly working with their clients. It was their composure under immense pressure that may have saved lives that day.

Investigators are currently looking into the robbery as a possible hate crime, with links to another armed robbery from March. This incident, also targeting an Asian-owned salon, occurred at South Bay Massage and Spa in Renton and left one man injured after being shot in the leg.

The suspects from the South Bay Massage and Spa robbery were never found. Police believe that they may have struck again.

The possibility that these crimes were racially motivated is still being investigated. With a 76% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes since 2020, hate seems like a likely motivator. With right-wing conspirators and even the former president blaming the coronavirus pandemic on Asian people, specifically the Chinese, hate crimes against Asians have skyrocketed to an all-time high.

Concerns regarding anti-Asian hate crimes began to surface after the March 16 Atlanta Spa shooting, which left six Asian women and two others dead. While the King Way and South Bay salons were lucky to have no fatalities, the sentiment behind the crimes may be no different than in Atlanta.

Citizens are now calling on the SPD to investigate the possibility that these crimes are related, and motivated by hate, to protect more people from undergoing the same terrifying experience.

For more information, or to get involved in Stop AAPI Hate, visit https://stopaapihate.org. To support Jenny and King Way Salon, contribute to the GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-king-way-hair-salon-recover-from-robbery