ATLANTA (AP) – The suspect in the shootings at three Atlanta-area massage parlors that killed eight has been charged with murder and assault.
Authorities in Cherokee County say 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long was charged with four counts of murder and one count of assault in the shooting at a massage parlor there.
The other victims were killed at two massage parlors in Atlanta.
Officials said they’re still investigating whether the Georgia killings were hate crimes amid concerns over a wave of attacks on Asian Americans. Six of the victims were Asian and seven were women. Authorities said the the man accused in the shootings told police his act wasn’t racially motivated and that he potentially had a “sex addiction.”
Georgia Governor Kemp as in Augusta, Wednesday for a COVID-19 roundtable discussion at Augusta University. Afterwards, he was asked about his thoughts on the shootings.
“It was horrific. My family and I are praying for the victims and the families of the victims. There’s no place for that in the state of Georgia. Obviously, that individual is deranged, in many ways.”
ATLANTA (AP) – The man accused of killing eight people at massage parlors in the Atlanta area told police his act was not racially motivated, and that he had a potential “sex addiction.”
Still, officials said they were investigating whether the deaths were hate crimes amid concerns over a wave of attacks on Asian Americans.
Six of the victims were Asian and seven were women.
Officials did not say that 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long ever went to the parlors where the shootings occurred.
Many suspects who commit mass shootings have a history of violence against women.
Still, the attack haunted members of the Asian American community who saw the shootings as an attack on them.
Authorities have released some of the names of the victims who were slain. The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office identified the victims who died there as:
- 33-year-old Delaina Ashley Yaun
- 54-year-old Paul Andre Michels
- 49-year-old Xiaojie Yan
- 44-year-old Daoyou Feng
The sheriff’s office identified an injured person as 30-year-old Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz.
Governor Brian Kemp released the following statement:
Senator Jon Ossoff released the following statement:
“I’m heartbroken for the victims of last night’s horrific shootings in Georgia, and for the victims’ families. I commend the authorities for swiftly apprehending the armed suspect. While the motive for last night’s terrible violence remains under investigation, I express my love and support for and stand in solidarity with the Asian-American community, which has endured a shocking increase in violence and harassment over the last year.”
WOODSTOCK, Ga. (NewsNation Now) — Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were shot dead in a string of shootings at massage parlors in the Atlanta-area, authorities said Tuesday. A 21-year-old man was taken into custody in southwest Georgia hours later after a manhunt.
Authorities in Cherokee County said five people were shot around 5 p.m. at Young’s Asian Massage Parlor in a strip mall in Acworth, about 30 miles north of Atlanta. Two of the victims were dead and three were transported to a hospital where two of them also died, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Jay Baker said.
Two women of Asian descent were among the dead there, along with a white woman and a white man, Baker said, adding that the surviving victim was a Hispanic man.
Around 5:50 p.m. EST, police officers responded to a call of a robbery in progress at Gold Spa in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. Officers found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds. While they were at that scene, they learned of a call reporting shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, and found a woman who appeared to have been shot dead inside the business.
The killings came amid a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden has been briefed on the “horrific shootings” and administration officials have been in contact with the mayor’s office and the FBI.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that its diplomats in Atlanta have confirmed from police that four of the victims who died were women of Korean descent. The ministry said the office of its Consulate General in Atlanta is trying to confirm the nationality of the women.
“Our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday evening on Twitter.
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office shared photos of a man suspected in the Acworth shooting and their vehicle on Facebook after surveillance video captured them pulling up to the business around 4:50 p.m.
Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock said in a video posted on Facebook that his deputies and state troopers were notified around 8 p.m. that a murder suspect out of north Georgia was headed toward their county. Deputies and troopers set up along the interstate and “made contact with the suspect,” who was driving a 2007 black Hyundai Tucson, around 8:30 p.m., he said.
A state trooper performed a PIT, or pursuit intervention technique, maneuver, “which caused the vehicle to spin out of control,” Hancock said.
Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, was then taken into custody “without incident” and was being held in the Crisp County jail about 150 miles south of Atlanta.
Police said video footage showed the suspect’s vehicle in the area of the Atlanta spas about the time of those attaccks. Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities were working to confirm the cases are related.
Atlanta Police Department Sergeant John Chafee said APD believes the 21-year-old suspect is connected to the other shootings as well.
“Many have asked whether these shootings are related to Cherokee County’s shootings. Video footage from our Video Integration Center places the Cherokee County suspect’s vehicle in the area, around the time of our Piedmont Road shootings. That, along with video evidence viewed by investigators, suggests it is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County’s, who is in custody. Because of this, an investigator from APD is in Cherokee County and we are working closely with them to confirm with certainty our cases are related.”ATLANTA POLICE DEPARTMENT SERGEANT JOHN CHAFEE
With two shootings at massage parlors in Atlanta and the Acworth shooting, Atlanta police said they dispatched officers to check nearby similar businesses and increased patrols in the area.
FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said the agency was assisting Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities in the investigation.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.