A search is underway for a suspect who opened fire at a Dallas hair salon, and injured three Korean women inside before fleeing Wednesday, police say.
Dallas police responded to the Hair World Salon at 2216 Royal Lane at 2:20 p.m. local time, in an area called the Asian Trade District, known as the city's Koreatown.
The suspect, described as a Black male dressed in all black, walked into the business and started shooting, striking the three women, police said in a news release.
NBC Dallas Fort-Worth reports the salon is a Korean-owned business and all the victims — the owner, an employee and a customer — were Korean women.
A motive for the shooting has not yet been confirmed. Police Sgt. Warren Mitchell said in a media briefing Wednesday that investigators do not have any indication that the shooting was a hate crime, but aren't ruling it out.
The victims were transported to local hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said. Mitchell said the women were all apparently shot in their extremities.
The suspect left the scene in a maroon minivan, police said.
Law enforcement shared video surveillance stills of the suspect, appearing to hold a large rifle-like weapon, and the vehicle he left in.
Police are asking for help in identifying and locating the suspect, described as 5’7 to 5’10 with a thin build, curly medium length hair, and a connecting beard.
Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
The investigation is ongoing and the FBI has been called to assist in the probe.
The FBI's field office in Dallas told NBC News in a statement Thursday morning that the agency is in communication with Dallas police and "coordinating closely."
"If, in the course of the local investigation, information comes to light of a potential federal violation, the FBI is prepared to investigate," a spokesperson said.
Police are assuring the public that the suspect will be found.
“It just brings an added fear in this community, and we want to make sure we do what we can to ease their fear,” Mitchell said.
Dallas City Councilman Omar Narvaez, who represents the district where the violence unfolded, denounced the shooting in a statement to NBC News.
“These acts of violence are disturbing, and I have full faith that the Dallas Police Department will capture the perpetrators," he said. "The Asian Trade District AKA KoreaTown is a vibrant business community which has grown exponentially over the years, and I am committed to making sure this important business district continues to thrive."
He described the area of the shooting as a bustling business neighborhood, ranging from food to retail, insurance and law, run almost exclusively by Korean immigrants.
Dr. Brian Ahn, the Chairman of the Korean Society of Dallas, told NBC News the community is afraid following the shooting.
“I think people feel scared because many businesses are here. Korean people want to protect the community and prevent crime,” he said, calling for peace. “Right now people are like, ‘Oh my God, it could happen to me.’”
He noted there hasn’t been anti-Asian hate crimes that he’s noticed in this area before, and said a lack of gun control is a contributing issue in the incident.
While it's not clear if this incident was a hate crime, it comes at a time the nation has seen rising hate crimes against the Asian American community amid the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that anti-Asian hate crime in the U.S. increased by 339 percent in 2021 compared to the year prior.
The Wednesday salon shooting recalls the Atlanta-area spas shooting in March 2021 when a gunman entered three separate spas, killing eight people, including six women of Asian descent.
After that attack, President Joe Biden unveiled efforts to address anti-Asian violence, and in May 2021 the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was signed into law. The legislation directs the Justice Department to expedite the review of Covid-19-related hate crimes reported to law enforcement agencies, establish ways to report such incidents online and perform public outreach.