Delaina Ashley Yaun González "was a mother that doted over her children. She loved, loved, loved her kids," says relative DeLayne Davis

By Chris Harris and Diane Herbst
March 22, 2021 03:42 PM
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Delaina Yaun
Delaina Yaun González
| Credit: Courtesy of DeLayne Davis

Delaina Ashley Yaun González, who was killed last week when a man opened fire inside an Atlanta-area spa she had been visiting, was a kind woman who "didn't have a cross word for anybody," a relative tells PEOPLE.

DeLayne Davis, 55, says Delaina, 33, was an affectionate, family-oriented person who was "just a good soul."

"You know, her heart was pure," says Davis.

Davis says that Delaina was known to take in those she knew who suddenly found themselves needing a place to stay.

"She just had open doors," she explained. "If [relatives or friends] had any hardships, that's where they went. There was a young lady that lived there — that still lives there right now. She wound up living in Delaina's home because she needed a place to live."

Delaina was among four people killed Tuesday at Young's Asian Massage near Acworth, a suburb of Atlanta, before the suspected gunman moved on to two more spa locations and allegedly killed four others before he was stopped.

Davis says Delaina and her husband had gone to the spa for separate massages — despite reports suggesting they were there for a couple's massage.

"They were in different rooms, and the lady that was in the room with [Delaina's husband] Mario when the gunshots started going off, she went out and locked the door and told Mario to lock the door behind him," Davis says. "And she went out and got killed."

Responding officers wrongfully took Mario into custody at the scene. Mario was detained for nearly four hours while investigators scrambled to locate and identify the suspects.

Delaina Ashley Yaun González
Delaina Ashley Yaun González and family

The March 16 killings happened in three separate spas, and six of the eight victims were Asian women. Authorities have said there's no evidence to suggest the suspected killer was motivated by racial bias, instead alleging he was motivated by guilt over a sex addiction. But the motive remains under investigation, and the killings occurred amid a rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 

Investigators arrested Robert Aaron Long, 21, about two hours after the attacks in connection with the killings. He is charged with eight counts of murder and one count of assault, and has yet to enter pleas to those charges.

Long's attorney, J. Daran Burns, issued a statement last week, offering condolences to the victims and their families. He says he is working "to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident," adding, "Everybody is doing their jobs, both law enforcement and the district attorney's office. Now, our firm will conduct a thorough investigation on our client's behalf."

Davis said the killing of Delaina, a mother-of-two who worked for years as a server at a local Waffle House, has left the family shocked and horrified.

Delaina Ashley Yaun González, Mario González
Delaina Ashley Yaun González and her husband, Mario González
| Credit: GoFundMe

"It's been a devastating blow," she says, "because of all people, you know, she was just one of the good people on this planet still left. She was a mother that doted over her children. She loved, loved, loved her kids."

Davis added that Delaina was also a forgiving person.

"Her sister told me that, knowing Delaina, she would have already forgiven this man," Davis explains. "As difficult as it is on the rest of the family, Delaina would have forgiven him."

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As of Monday, a GoFundMe page created to help cover the family's expenses had raised more than $100,000 from 3,200 donors. 

Attacks on Asian Americans have been on the rise in recent months. A recent report from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found that anti-Asian hate crimes increased 150 percent in 2020 in America's 16 largest cities, despite overall hate crimes dropping 7 percent in those cities. 

According to a recent Harris poll, 75 percent of Asian Americans are fearful of increased hate and discrimination toward them. 

If you've been attacked or have witnessed an attack, please contact your local authorities. You can also report your incident here. To learn more and to report crimes, go to: Asian Americans Advancing JusticeStop the AAPI HateNational Council of Asian Pacific AmericansAsian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, and Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council.