On Tuesday night, three shootings took place at spas in the Atlanta area, killing eight people, most of whom were women of Asian descent. Authorities arrested a 21-year-old man who was suspected to be the perpetrator of the crime.
The first of three shootings took place at Young’s Asian Massage Parlor located in a strip mall about 30 miles away from Atlanta.
Authorities received a call about the shooting at around 5 p.m. local time. When they arrived on the scene, they found five people shot. Of these people, two had died while they rushed the other three to a hospital nearby. However, two others died while receiving treatment. The lone survivor out of the five was in stable condition.
An hour after the first incident, two other shootings also took place in Atlanta. These happened at the Gold Spa and the Aromatherapy Spa, which were across the street from each other.
Atlanta Gunman Claims Shootings Not Racially Motivated
Authorities arrested Robert Aaron Long, 21, from Woodstock, Georgia, who was the suspected lone gunman. They also retrieved a 9mm firearm from his car.
Immediately after the first shooting took place, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office released surveillance footage of the suspect. Not long after, Long’s family contacted the authorities, believing Long’s involvement.
On Wednesday, authorities officially charged Long with eight counts of murder, accounting for all three shootings – four counts for shootings at two Atlanta massage parlors, the other four for the one in Cherokee Country.
As per Capt. Jay Baker, the spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, Long said what he did was not racially motivated. Baker also mentioned that Long saw the spas as “a temptation” the suspect wanted to eradicate.
During a news conference on Wednesday morning, Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant stated that was still too early in the investigation to conclude whether this was a hate crime.
The shootings come amid a surge of attacks targeting Asian Americans across the country, which also coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic.