A suspect went on a shooting rampage at three Atlanta-area spas Tuesday leaving eight people dead, including six Asian women – the latest in a surge of attacks on Asian Americans.
The Washington Post reported that four Asian women were killed inside two neighboring businesses in Atlanta, and another two women of Asian descent were killed in a spa near Cherokee County. A White woman and White man were also killed in the attacks, and a Hispanic man was transported to a local hospital with injuries.
Surveillance video of the first killings showed a man in a navy and red hoodie enter Young’s Asian Massage just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday. After opening fire, the suspect took off in a black Hyundai Tucson. Around 5:47 p.m., 27 miles south of the first shooting, the gunman killed three more women inside Gold Massage Spa and one woman inside Aromatherapy Spa, according to authorities.
After a short-lived manhunt, law enforcement arrested suspect 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long in Crisp County, 150 miles south of Atlanta. Cherokee County Sheriff’s Captain Jay Baker told reporters that investigators have yet to determine a motive, but “nothing’s going to be ruled out.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also getting involved in the case, the New York Post reported.
“Our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence,” Georgia Governor Brian Kemp tweeted. “We deeply appreciate the quick apprehension of a suspect by [Georgia Department of Public Safety] in coordination with local and federal law enforcement.”
Hate crimes against Asian Americans have spiked nationwide since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with almost 3,800 reported, a report by the group Stop AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders) Hate revealed.
“Right now there is a great deal of fear and pain in the Asian American community that must be addressed,” the group stated.
Other local advocacy groups said the attacks were shocking.
“We are shaken by the violence in our city that has left 8 people dead, including members of the Asian American community,” said Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta in a statement. “We are gathering information about what happened and what the needs of those directly impacted are. Now is the time to hold the victims and their families in our hearts and with light.”
According to the Washington Post, little is known about the suspect. His family reportedly resides in Woodstock north of downtown Atlanta.
“They come across as a good Christian family,” neighbor Mary Morgan, 88, told the Post. “They used to go to church on a regular basis, and I’ve never seen anything bad out of them.”