Suspect in Koreatown Salon Attack Had ‘Delusions’ About Asian People, Girlfriend Says

·4 min read
Dallas County Jail
Dallas County Jail

A man accused of shooting three Korean women last week at a Dallas hair salon was paranoid that the “Asian mob” was after him and had been fired from his job for “verbally attacking” his Asian boss, his girlfriend reportedly told investigators.

Jeremy Theron Smith, 37, was arrested early Tuesday morning and booked into the Dallas County Jail on three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, according to detention records. He is being held without bond and does not have a lawyer listed in official filings. Smith is accused of entering the Hair World Salon in Dallas’ Koreatown neighborhood on May 11 and shooting two employees and a customer with a .22 caliber rifle. All three of the victims were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Police at first said they did not think the incident had been a hate crime, but quickly reversed course after further investigation.

Cops now believe Smith may also be behind two other shootings in the area, both of which also targeted Asian-run businesses. No one was hurt in those attacks.

The Dallas Police Department confirmed on Tuesday that they made an arrest in the Hair World shooting, but have not formally released Smith’s name, Cpl. Melinda Gutierrez told The Daily Beast. Dallas PD Chief Eddie Garcia will share further information at a press conference this afternoon, Gutierrez said, declining to provide additional details tied to the case.

But an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by several local outlets offers some insight into a possible motive, describing Smith as having “delusions” about being harmed by members of the Asian community. He was in a car accident with an Asian man two years ago, and “has had near panic attacks when he is around anyone of Asian descent,” his girlfriend told investigators.

Smith had been employed at an Ulta Beauty distribution warehouse in an industrial section of Dallas and was let go after an altercation with his supervisor, who was Asian, the affidavit stated. Things got so bad that Smith was admitted to “several mental health facilities” in recent months and years, according to the affidavit.

The filing says Smith shot his alleged victims with a .22-caliber rifle, firing some 13 times in all. He was seen on surveillance video running back to a burgundy minivan after the shooting, carrying an assault rifle. A witness who spotted the vehicle’s temporary tag gave cops a partial plate number, saying it began with the number “47” and had a “98” in it somewhere, as well, the affidavit states. Investigators soon matched the digits with an identical-looking Honda Odyssey parked in the driveway of Smith’s girlfriend’s home.

The Odyssey was parked next to a 2013 Lexus, which Smith had previously damaged in an alleged criminal mischief case, according to the affidavit. Police on Monday tracked Smith down in the Dallas suburb of DeSoto, and took him into custody. In an interview at police headquarters, Smith confessed that the burgundy minivan belonged to him, the affidavit states.

When cops asked him about the most recent shooting, Smith confessed that he had been in the area at the time but claimed he was simply looking to buy a pane of replacement glass for his garage door, according to the affidavit. He also reportedly told police that he owns two guns, a .380-caliber handgun and a .22-caliber rifle. A search of Smith’s minivan turned up a .380, a magazine containing four rounds, and a box of Winchester .380 ammunition.

The daughter of one of the three injured victims recently told the Associated Press that the gunman—who at that time had not yet been identified—was not someone her mom recognized and had been cool and collected during the attack.

“He was calm,” Jane Bae said. "He just walked up to it and then stood there—didn’t walk around—but stood there and shot like 20 shots and then just calmly went out.”

Anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S. spiked 339 percent in 2021, following a substantial jump the year before. Violence against the Asian community soared after the emergence of COVID-19, which was first reported in Wuhan, China. In March 2021, an armed Atlanta man targeted Asian spas across the city, killing eight people.

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