Six Asian women among eight killed in Atlanta-area spa shootings

Brenda Watkins
March 17, 2021

Eight people were killed in shootings at three different spas in the state of Georgia on Tuesday and a 21-year-old male suspect was in custody, USA police have said. The police said that a 21-year-old man suspected to be involved in the shootings has been taken into custody.

"We are still early in this investigation, so we can not make a determination at this moment", Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said.

He said all four victims were female, and "it appears that they may be Asian".

About an hour later and 30 miles away, Atlanta police responded to what was described as a robbery at the Gold Massage Spa on Piedmont Road in Atlanta. While investigating the scene, officers were called across the street to another shooting at Aromatherapy Spa, where they found another woman dead from a gunshot wound inside. Two people died at the scene and three were transported to a hospital, where two of them also died, Baker said.

Surveillance footage shows the suspect pulled up about 4.50pm, minutes before the shooting.

Captain Baker said the suspect, Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, was taken into custody in Crisp County, about 150 miles south of Atlanta.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp praised law enforcement officials for their response to the shootings, and said: "Our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence".

Long, 21, was allegedly on his way to Florida at the time of his Tuesday night arrest and indicated he was potentially going "to carry out additional shootings", Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at the news conference.

However, hate crimes against Asian-Americans have spiked in recent months, fuelled by rhetoric that blames them for the spread of Covid-19.

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The ministry said the office of its Consulate General in Atlanta is trying to confirm the nationality of the women. "This latest attack will only exacerbate the fear and pain that the Asian American community continues to endure".

Following the Georgia attacks, the hashtag #StopAsianHate began trending on Twitter.

Authorities in the area, known as Atlanta's Zone 2, said they are increasing patrols around similar businesses, and FBI spokesperson Kevin Rowson said the agency is assisting with the investigations.

"We also stand together with our Asian American community against the rise of hate crimes toward Asian Americans, which especially target Chinese Americans".

Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock said in a video posted on Facebook his deputies and state troopers were notified about 8:00pm that a murder suspect out of north Georgia was headed toward their county.

Officers set up along the interstate and "made contact with the suspect", who was driving a 2007 black Hyundai Tucson, he said.

A state trooper performed a pursuit intervention technique manoeuvre, "which caused the vehicle [of Long] to spin out of control", Hancock said.

"He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate", said Mr Reynolds, adding that Mr Long was caught with a 9mm handgun and did not resist arrest.

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