1 month later, Cherokee spa shooting survivor released from hospital

Elcias Hernandez Ortiz, critically injured in a March 16 shooting at a Cherokee County spa, has been released from the hospital, his attorney said.
Elcias Hernandez Ortiz, critically injured in a March 16 shooting at a Cherokee County spa, has been released from the hospital, his attorney said.

Credit: Family photo

Credit: Family photo

He was in a therapy room of a Cherokee County spa last month when a gunman busted in firing shots, killing four people. Somehow, Elcias Hernandez Ortiz survived, but he was critically injured.

“The bullet ricocheted off the inside of his skull and traveled down his esophagus into his lungs,” an attorney for Hernandez Ortiz said in an emailed statement. “He spent nearly a month in ICU recovering from numerous injuries.”

Explore‘A crime against us all.’ Outrage, grief after deadly spa shootings

Hernandez Ortiz is now home, where his recovery continues after the March 16 shooting at Youngs Asian Massage. He is alert and can communicate, but he is unable to work and faces mounting medical bills and an uncertain financial future, attorney Paul Rohan said late Thursday. Rohan’s firm will represent Hernandez Ortiz, free of charge, during the judicial process.

On that fateful afternoon, while Hernandez Ortiz was being rushed to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, investigators believe the shooting suspect was on his way to Atlanta, where he is accused of shootings at two additional spas.

Four people were killed at Youngs Asian Massage on March 16.
Four people were killed at Youngs Asian Massage on March 16.

Credit: Christina Matacotta for the AJC

Credit: Christina Matacotta for the AJC

By the time 21-year-old Robert Aaron Young was captured that night about 150 miles south of Atlanta, he was accused of eight homicides, according to police. Young remained Friday in the Cherokee jail.

“Eight violent deaths in one night shocks the conscience,” Rohan said. “We mourn the senseless tragedy that robbed the world of the victims’ light. Like many, we wanted to help. We are honored that we have the opportunity to help one of the victims that survived this heinous act.”

A GoFundMe page was created after the shooting to assist Hernandez Ortiz and his family. By Friday, it had raised nearly $380,000.

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