CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — The husband of one victim killed in the deadly metro Atlanta spa shootings revealed that he was detained for hours by police.
Mario Gonzalez and his wife, Delaina Ashley Yaun, visited the spa March 16 for a date night massage. The newlyweds were in separate rooms when a gunman burst inside and started shooting. Yaun was killed along with four other people.
Channel 2′s Nicole Carr learned that as Gonzalez waited to get information on his wife, he was detained. A man who owns the business next door told Carr that Gonzalez asked him for help in communicating with police.
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Alex Acosta and his wife, Rita Barron, knew Gonzalez and his wife, who were their customers. Acosta told Carr he found a stunned Gonzalez outside the spa after the shootings in handcuffs.
“Mario said ‘Hey Primo, can you ask him about handcuffs? Because my wife is inside. I don’t know what happened,’” Acosta said. “I tried to talk to him, but the cops said, ‘No , no talking. No talking.’”
Over the weekend, Gonzalez told Spanish language outlet Mundo Hispanico that he was frustrated by being treated as a suspect when he was handcuffed and escorted from the room he was too afraid to leave as gunfire erupted.
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“Mario can’t speak English, so the cop said he can’t communicate with police,” Acosta said.
Barron said she thinks the language barrier is why Gonzalez was handcuffed.
“I know the language is very important because we live here, you know?” Barron said. “I don’t know, maybe they don’t let him say anything until they know what his rights are, you know.”
Gonzalez told Mundo Hispanico that he wasn’t released for four hours.
Federal authorities have indicated that it will be on local authorities to pursue Georgia’s new hate crime laws in this case, and they have not found evidence to meet the threshold of federal hate crime charges yet.
Local authorities have repeatedly said it is too early for them to come to that conclusion, and too early for them to rule anything out.
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