Dallas salon shooting suspect had delusions about Asian people, girlfriend tells police

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Dallas police have arrested a suspect accused of shooting three women at a Korean hair salon and are investigating his possible involvement in other racially-motivated shootings targeting people of Asian descent.

In an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by the Dallas Morning News, the suspect was identified as 36-year-old Jeremy Theron Smith. His girlfriend told police that Smith had been having delusions about Asian people, according to the warrant.

On May 11, a gunman walked into a hair salon on Royal Lane near Interstate 35E. The man fired 13 shots inside the salon, which is located in an Asian-American community in Dallas that is predominantly Korean, and injured three Korean women before fleeing the scene in a maroon minivan, police said.

In a social media post early Tuesday morning, the Dallas Police Department announced the arrest connected to the salon shooting. The police department said it would release more information about the arrest during a news conference about 2 p.m. Tuesday after the suspect was interviewed and processed.

Dallas police say the man in this still from a surveillance video is suspected of walking into a Korean hair salon Wednesday, shooting three women and fleeing to a maroon minivan.
Dallas police say the man in this still from a surveillance video is suspected of walking into a Korean hair salon Wednesday, shooting three women and fleeing to a maroon minivan.

The Dallas Morning News reported Smith is charged with three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

According to Smith’s warrant, he fired over a dozen shots from a rifle inside Hair World Salon, striking three of seven people inside the business, before fleeing the scene. One woman was shot in the forearm, a second was shot in the foot and the third woman was shot in the back, according to the Morning News report.

After tracking Smith for two days after the shooting, police took him into custody Monday in Desoto, where he spoke to officers without an attorney, the warrant states.

“Courts records say he admitted the van belonged to him and said he was near the hair salon at the time of the shooting. Police said Smith told them he was looking for a business that could replace a broken glass plane,” the Dallas Morning News reported, adding that Smith admitted to owning a .380 handgun and Kalashnikov-type rifle.

The Dallas newspaper reported that Smith’s girlfriend told police that for two years Smith has had delusions about Asian people after being involved in a car crash with an Asian man.

When Smith is around an Asian person, his girlfriend told police, “he begins having delusions that the Asian mob is after him or attempting to harm him,” the affidavit stated. She also said Smith had been “admitted to several mental health facilities” because of the delusions, and had been fired from a job for “verbally attacking” his Asian boss, the Morning News reported.

https://twitter.com/DallasPD/status/1526482372555833345?s=20&t=APDmKXZrFVMx-I6HtO1nbA

Last week, Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said the shooting on Royal Lane may be connected to two other recent incidents where shots were fired at businesses run by Asian-American community members. Police suspect the shootings may be related after saying the driver in each of the incidents had a similar vehicle.

Police in Dallas said the man suspected of walking into a Korean hair salon and shooting three women fled in this maroon minivan.
Police in Dallas said the man suspected of walking into a Korean hair salon and shooting three women fled in this maroon minivan.

“On April 2, 2022, at about 11:13 a.m., a vehicle fired shots as it drove past a strip mall of Asian-run businesses located at 2208 Royal Lane. Witnesses reported the driver was in a red minivan. A month later, on May 10, 2022, a suspect in a burgundy van or car drove by and shot into an Asian-run business near 4849 Sunnyvale Street. Three people were in the back part of the building and were not injured,” police said in a news release. “The next day, on May 11, 2022, at 2216 Royal Lane, a suspect entered the business and shot three victims. A witness described the suspect running from that business to a red older style minivan and sped away westbound on Royal Lane.”

This photo shows the exterior of Hair World Salon on Thursday, May 12, 2022 in Dallas. Dallas’ police chief said Friday, May 13, 2022 that a shooting that injured three women in a hair salon in the city’s Koreatown might have been a hate crime as he announced that it could be connected to two other shootings at businesses run by Asian Americans. (Rebecca Slezak/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
This photo shows the exterior of Hair World Salon on Thursday, May 12, 2022 in Dallas. Dallas’ police chief said Friday, May 13, 2022 that a shooting that injured three women in a hair salon in the city’s Koreatown might have been a hate crime as he announced that it could be connected to two other shootings at businesses run by Asian Americans. (Rebecca Slezak/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

Prior to linking the three shootings together, police initially announced that they didn’t believe the shots fired last week were racially motivated.

The shootings are now being investigated as possible hate crimes.

“Dallas Police have reached out to our partners to make them aware of this possible connection and to ask for their assistance — this includes the FBI and member agencies of the Joint Terrorism Task Force,” police said Friday in a written statement. “Through our Community Engagement, we have, or are in the process of notifying our Asian community and business leaders and we have also reached out to the Anti-Defamation League, the mayor, the Mayor’s Hate Crime Advisory Council, and scheduled a Korean/American Safety Town Hall meeting.”

At the town hall meeting Monday night, the FBI, the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division said they are opening a federal hate crime investigation.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, reports have risen of violence, harassment and hate incidents against Asian Americans. Verbal harassment and deliberate avoidance of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been a majority of the incidents, followed by physical assaults and being coughed at or spat on, USA Today reported last year. A majority of the victims have been women.

Between March 19, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2021, there were at least 10,905 hate incidents against Asian Americans in the U.S., according to Stop AAPI Hate. Texas ranked fourth in the number of reported hate incidents during that stretch, with around 425.

Star-Telegram Service Reporter Brayden Garcia contributed to this report.