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For the second time in about three weeks, a woman was shot and killed inside an Albuquerque massage business during an apparent armed robbery, stoking fears among those in the Asian community.
Albuquerque police found the victim, a woman of Chinese descent, in a West Side massage spa late Tuesday night after responding to an armed robbery at the business.
Security camera video of the incident – time stamped 8:30 p.m. – was being shared on a messenger app by Wednesday morning. It showed a motionless woman lying in a doorway as a man with a gun in his waistband rifles through an office.
Officer Chase Jewell, an Albuquerque Police Department spokesman, said officers responded around 11 p.m. to “delayed reports of a possible robbery” at the Canna Spa Massage near Coors and Los Volcanes NW.
Gilbert Gallegos, another APD spokesman, said in an update that the body of a woman was found inside the business.
“Homicide detectives are conducting interviews,” he said. Gallegos did not identify the woman but said she was of Chinese descent and had been shot.
Gallegos released still photos of the suspect and his black truck from security footage and asked anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers or 911.
The incident comes a little more than three weeks after Sihui Fang, a 45-year-old massage spa owner, died in a shootout with suspected armed robbers inside her Northeast Albuquerque business. Two young men, one of whom was shot and injured, were charged in her death.
At the time, business owners and employees at massage businesses told the Journal they were worried because there had been a spate of robberies of such businesses in Albuquerque and Santa Fe in recent months.
Chearie Alipat, coordinator for ending gender-based violence at the New Mexico Asian Family Center, on Wednesday said the community is still “processing what’s happening.”
“It is a tragedy and our community is hurting, and we are grieving with them,” Alipat said.
Also on Wednesday, local advocates sent an email to those who head commercial real estate associations, asking for increased security for any Asian-owned businesses they are renting to.
Kristelle Siarza, volunteer executive director of the Asian Business Collaborative, said they are asking the property owners to be vigilant over the next 24 to 48 hours.
“There is something going on and we don’t know what’s happening, but it’s terrifying,” she said. “We’re really afraid that the culprit is out there still and could be targeting a business tonight or tomorrow.”
Siarza said they have had a significant number of robberies reported to them by Asian-owned businesses in recent months. Some owners were discouraged after authorities told them some robberies, of a wallet or phone, were “too small a crime” to pursue.
Siarza said APD has been more responsive lately, but concerns about immigration status and inadequate licensing have also kept some businesses from reporting.
“These strings of little robberies are becoming such a big gateway for where we are now, we’re trying to ring the alarm to say, ‘Something is up and we don’t know what it is,’ ” she said.
“… At this point in time, it’s a matter of safety and security for everybody, not just Asian-owned businesses, but also those that share a wall with them.”
On Wednesday, a graphic video of the latest incident was being shared by Asian business owners on WeChat, a messenger app popular among Asian communities.
The video, time stamped nearly three hours before police arrived, shows a woman lying motionless in a doorway in the hallway of the business. A tall man wearing a black baseball cap, a gaiter over his face and a sleeve covering his arm tattoos, rummages through an office next door.
The man holds a lockbox or briefcase of some kind as he gathers items from the room. A large handgun is visible sticking out of his waistband. Throughout the video, the woman lies still in the background.