The 21-year-old man accused of killing eight people Tuesday at three Atlanta-area massage parlors, most of them women of Asian descent, claims racism wasn't the motive, police say. Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds says Robert Aaron Long indicated he has issues, "potentially sexual addiction," and "may have frequented some of these places in the past," NPR reports. He says Long denied there was any racial motive involved. Capt. Jay Baker of the sheriff's office says Long, who was arrested after a manhunt Tuesday night, saw the spas as "a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate." More:
- He may have planned more attacks. Long was taken into custody around 150 miles south of Atlanta after police tracked his vehicle on the interstate. Police say he was on his way to Florida to attack "some type of porn industry," the AP reports.
- The timeline. Police believe Long bought the gun hours before the killings, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Investigators say the killing spree began at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor in Acworth in Cherokee County around 5pm. Three women and one man were shot dead at that location. An hour later, police in Atlanta found three women shot dead at Gold Spa. Another woman had been killed across the street at Aromatherapy Spa. Long was taken into custody around 8:30pm.
- The victims. Police say six victims were of Asian descent and two, including the only man, were white, the New York Times reports. A Hispanic man was injured. The South Korean consulate in Atlanta says four of the victims were ethnic Koreans. The victims of the first shooting were identified Wednesday as Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Yan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44.
- Long's family helped investigators. CNN reports that Long's family contacted police after authorities shared a photo of a suspect from the scene of the first shooting. His relatives "are very distraught, and they were very helpful in this apprehension," Reynolds says.
- Mayor: "It has to stop." Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms says the shootings were a tragedy whether investigators determine it to be a hate crime or not. "Whatever the motivation was for this guy, we know that the majority of the victims were Asian,” she said. "We also know that this is an issue that is happening across the country. It is unacceptable, it is hateful and it has to stop." Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen said the shootings appeared to be at the "intersection of gender-based violence, misogyny, and xenophobia."
- "People in the Asian American community are scared." Georgia state Sen. Michelle Au says that while she won't jump to conclusions about the motive for Tuesday's killing spree, "people in the Asian American community are scared" amid increasing violence and discrimination, the Washington Post reports. "It is taking place in a landscape where Asian Americans are increasingly terrified and fearful for their lives and their safety because of these escalating threats against our people,” she said.
- Celebrities speak out. USA Today rounds up some of the reactions from celebrities. George Takei called the killings a "hate crime" and said Republican leaders should "stop fanning violence with anti-Asian rhetoric." Daniel Dae Kim tweeted: "The race of the person committing the crime matters less than the simple fact that if you act with hate in your heart, you are part of the problem."
- Obama calls for new gun laws. "Even as we’ve battled the pandemic, we’ve continued to neglect the longer-lasting epidemic of gun violence in America," the former president tweeted Wednesday. "Yesterday's shootings are another tragic reminder that we have far more work to do to put in place commonsense gun safety laws and root out the pervasive patterns of hatred and violence in our society."
- Deadliest in years. The attack marks the sixth mass killing of 2021 in the US and is the deadliest since 9 people were killed in Dayton, Ohio, in August 2019, according to a database compiled by the AP, USA Today and Northeastern University.
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