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Spa victim foreshadowed violence in ‘06 restraining order

Jeong Soo Paek

Jeong Soo Paek

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Su Jung Health Sauna

Su Jung Health Sauna
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Norcross Spa Shooting - Press Conference

Norcross Police Chief Warren Summers address the media on Feb. 23, 2012 regarding the murder-suicide at a Norcross spa.

Norcross Police Chief Warren Summers address the media on Feb. 23, 2012 regarding the murder-suicide at a Norcross spa.

NORCROSS — Kum Hi Song had worried about her brother’s homicidal tendencies long before he killed her in a shooting rampage this week. Six years ago, she portended the violence in writings that were both eerie and accurate.

“I am concerned that he is becoming more threatening and wants to harm us with his guns,” Song wrote in 2006, when applying for a temporary protective order. “My brother has also threatened to commit suicide with his gun.”

Song was requesting protection because in February that year her brother, Jeong Soo Paek, had walked in the spa his sisters owned with their husbands, argued with her for a moment, then closed his fist and bashed her in the head. Norcross police arrested Paek on the scene for simple battery. His sister, whose temple began to swell and who appeared “in great physical discomfort,” was whisked to Dunwoody Medical Center, according to court documents.

Paek would serve about two months in jail, and his sister’s wounds weren’t deemed serious. Six years later, his attack at the same spa left no room for recovery.

Norcross police on Thursday identified 59-year-old Paek as the gunman in a quadruple-homicide at Su Jung Health Sauna on Buford Highway. His sisters dead and their husbands mortally wounded, Paek turned the .45 caliber handgun on himself and also died at the scene Tuesday night.

Along with Song, 61, police said the gunman killed Byong Ok Kang, 64, Kum Sook Kim, 57 and Tae Yol Kim, 55. Friends and business associates describe the victims as respected activists in the Korean community, who’d opened the popular and lavish spa in a massive building in 1998.

Kang, who had fought beside United States troops for South Korea in Vietnam, had served as an advisor for the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia, and was a board member at the Korean Family Center, which assists families in need.

Descriptions of the shooter were less flattering.

One family friend called Paek an aggressive and violent personality. Song described her brother’s mental health as deteriorating in the 2006 paperwork, noting that he was suicidal. Korean media members translated statements by people who knew Paek and said he’d lost his right eye when he was the victim of a shooting in Virginia.

Following a hearing in April 2006, a judge signed the protective order against Paek to stay in effect for six months. No other petitions for protective orders are on file in Gwinnett, a court representative said.

At the time, Paek was living in an RV on the spa’s property. Three deputies who served the protective order there confiscated weapons in the vehicle that included a shotgun, two pistols and nine loaded magazines, court documents state.

All four victims had ownership in the spa, which houses an eatery and salon. One of Paek’s sisters had asked him to leave earlier Tuesday, and police said he returned and argued with someone before gunfire erupted in the salon.

Investigators on Thursday were still sifting through various information as to the motive, which they think could have hinged on a financial dispute or a simple argument over food. Travis Kim, president of the Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta, told the Daily Post that Paek had recently lent one of his sisters money. The business owners, Kim said, had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize.

Paek’s criminal record in Gwinnett shows only one other arrest, a traffic citation and failure to appear charge in 2008.