A man accused of shooting three Asian American women at a Dallas hair salon in May was indicted Tuesday on multiple counts, including committing a hate crime and aggravated assault, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Jeremy Smith, 37, is charged with seven counts of aggravated assault, each with a hate-crime enhancement and punishable by five years to life in prison. He was arrested by Dallas police on May 16 and remains in the county jail with bail set at $700,000.
After Smith entered the Koreatown establishment on May 11, he allegedly fired 13 shots from a .22-caliber rifle, injuring three women — the salon owner, an employee and a customer — and endangering four others. The three women, who are all Korean, suffered nonfatal injuries and were transported to a local hospital after the shooting, police said.
Smith allegedly targeted the victims because of “his bias or prejudice against Asian Americans,” according to the announcement.
Smith’s girlfriend told police detectives he had been paranoid about Asian Americans since being involved in a car crash two years ago with an Asian man, according to a police affidavit.
Whenever Smith is around an Asian American person, he begins having delusions that “the Asian mob is after him or attempting to harm him” and was fired for “verbally attacking” his Asian boss, his girlfriend said, according to the police affidavit.
According to the affidavit, she told police Smith experienced panic attacks because of his delusions and was even admitted to several mental health facilities.
Texas federal prosecutors, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division partnered for a federal hate crime investigation into Smith.
Over recent years, the country has seen a sharp increase in anti-Asian violence. Many attacks have been captured in viral videos, intensifying fear and anger among Asian Americans.
Last year, a gunman killed six women of Asian descent at a shooting at massage businesses in and near Atlanta. Earlier this month, a West Texas man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for attacking an Asian family outside a Midland, Texas, department store in 2020. The man assumed they were Chinese and therefore responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an FBI analysis on increasing hate crimes.
Last May, President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law, which designates a Justice Department official to focus on reviewing incidents and provides grants to police departments so they can establish hotlines for hate crime reporting.
However, the law has also drawn rebuke for increasing policing and bolstering a carceral system some say is demonstrably ineffective at preventing crime and discriminatory, particularly toward Black Americans.