Published: Wed, March 17, 2021

Asian Women Among Victims in Atlanta Area Shooting

Asian Women Among Victims in Atlanta Area Shooting

A gunman who killed eight people, majority Asian women, in a shooting spree at three Atlanta-area massage parlors on Tuesday evening told police that he was not racially motivated. In Crisp County, about 150 miles south of Atlanta, the sheriff's office said it heard at about 8 p.m. that a homicide suspect was headed its way.

About an hour later, police in Atlanta found three Asian women dead from apparent gunshot wounds at a beauty spa.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry said four of the victims were of Korean descent.

While there, officers were called to a spa across the street, called Aromatherapy Spa, where they found another woman shot dead.

The attacks began around 5 pm, when four people were killed and another injured at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor in a strip mall near a rural area in Acworth, about 50 kilometers from Atlanta, said Cherokee County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Captain Jay Baker. A Hispanic man was taken to the hospital with injuries, Baker said. That, as well as other video evidence, "suggests it is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County's, who is in custody", Atlanta police said in a statement.

"At this time, investigators are gathering information from both scenes to determine exactly what occurred and attempting to obtain confirmed information regarding the suspect or suspects", said the Atlanta police statement.

Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Ga., was in custody Tuesday night in connection with fatal shootings at massage parlors in the Atlanta area.

Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Kevin Rowson said the agency was helping Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities in the investigation.

But because of numerous victims' backgrounds, some public officials and organizations have raised concerns that ethnicity came into play, against a backdrop of an increase in violence against Asian Americans nationwide.

"The reported shootings of multiple Asian American women today in Atlanta is an unspeakable tragedy - for the families of the victims first and foremost, but also for the Asian American community, which has been reeling from high levels of racist attacks over the course of the past year", it said.

A state trooper performed a manoeuvre "which caused the vehicle to spin out of control", Sheriff Hancock said. Long was then taken into custody "without incident" and was being held in the Crisp County jail for Cherokee County authorities who were expected to arrive soon to continue their investigation.

"We are working closely with them to confirm with certainty our cases are related", he added.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, tweeted, "My heart breaks to see this tragic news". Officers have been dispatched to check nearby similar businesses and patrols have been increased in the area, Chafee said.

The shootings come amid other attacks against people of Asian descent in the United States.

"AAPI Americans are once again being targeted, harassed, attacked, and killed in Georgia and communities across America", she wrote.

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