People place flowers at the site of the shooting to mourn the victims of the Atlanta serial shootings. (March 18, 2021)
A man accused of killing eight people in a serial shooting at a Georgia massage parlor in the United States is expected to be arraigned in court on Thursday (March 18).
The 21-year-old man, Robert Aaron Long, is a suspect in several shootings in Atlanta.
Prosecutors on Wednesday charged Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Georgia, with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault. He is being held at the Cherokee Country Adult Detention Center after being arrested in the Atlanta area following a shooting Tuesday night.
Police said Wednesday they have not identified a motive for the robber’s crime. Six of the victims in the shooting were Asian women. The other two victims were a white male and a white female. One other injured person remains in the hospital for treatment, police said.
Long told police after his arrest that the attacks were not racially motivated. Authorities said he had a “sex addiction” problem.
The crime has sparked a wave of fear in the Asian-American community, which has been attacked since the outbreak began a year ago. The Chinese Communist virus was first discovered in China.
Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American to serve in the state House of Representatives, said the shooting appears to be “a combination of gender-based violence and misogyny and xenophobia.
Nguyen Bich is a frequent voice for women and communities of color in the state, according to the Associated Press.
Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff Jay Baker told reporters, “He obviously had a problem with what he thought was a sexual addiction, and he saw these massage parlors as places he could go, and it was a temptation for him, and he wanted to eliminate that temptation.”
Officers said they do not know if Long actually frequented the places where the shootings took place and said he may be on his way to Florida and causing more shootings there.
Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said it was too early to characterize the shooting as a hate crime.
President Biden said he would not make a judgment on the motive behind the shooting until he had more information.
In a video conference with the Irish prime minister, President Biden said, “At this point I’m not going to make a connection to the motive of the killer. I’m waiting to hear back from the investigation that’s being conducted by the FBI and the Department of Justice, so I’ll wait until that investigation is complete before I make any more comments.”
Authorities have identified the four victims as Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, of Acworth, Paul Andre Michels, 54, of Atlanta, Xiaojie Yan, 49, of Kennesaw. and Daoyou Feng, 44, of Kennesaw, whose address is unknown.
Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, of Acworth, was wounded in the shooting.
The names of the other victims have not been released.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a statement, “A crime against any community is a crime against us all.”
She said, “I commend law enforcement for the swift arrest of the suspect in the tragic shooting. I have been in close contact with the White House and the Atlanta Police Department (APD) as they work with federal, state and local partners to investigate the suspect, the person responsible for this senseless act of violence in our city.”
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) tweeted, “These horrific crimes have no place in Georgia.” Kemp also said he and Georgia’s First Lady are “heartbroken and disgusted by the heinous shooting last night,” and said they will continue to pray for the families and loved ones of the victims.
U.S. Vice President Harris said the shooting illustrates “the larger issue of violence in our country and what we must do to never tolerate it and to always speak out against it.
Former U.S. President Barack Obama called for “common sense gun safety laws” to be enacted as a result of the shooting.
The first shooting occurred at a massage parlor in Acworth, about 50 miles north of Atlanta. Local police said a gunman killed two Asian women, a white woman and a white man. One other man was also wounded.
About an hour later, Atlanta police found three Asian women dead at a beauty spa who apparently died from gunshot wounds. They then found another Asian woman shot to death at a nearby spa.
Police said surveillance video showed the suspect’s vehicle at all three locations, and they were pretty sure the same person was responsible for all three shootings. Police pursued the suspect’s car on the highway and eventually stopped and arrested the suspect, Long, about 240 miles south of Atlanta.
The shooting comes at a Time when attacks against Asians in the United States are on the rise.
First Lady Jill Biden said Wednesday, “First of all, I want to say something directly to the families of the victims of the Atlanta shooting last night. My heart is with you. I hope all Americans will join me in praying for everyone who has been affected by this senseless tragedy.”
According to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University, this is the sixth mass killing in the United States this year and the deadliest since the Dayton, Ohio, shooting in August 2019. The Dayton shooting, which occurred in August 2019, left nine people dead.