In a horrific event that unfolded in less than an hour on the evening of March 15, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long is alleged to have entered three different Atlanta-area massage parlors, opening fire with a weapon and leaving eight people dead. At least four of the six female Asian victims were of Korean origin, NBC News reported.
The Washington Post reported that “Police responded to a call of a ‘robbery in progress at Gold Massage Spa and were still on the scene when shots were fired across the street inside Aromatherapy Spa, according to Chafee. Officers found one woman inside that business who was also fatally shot.”
In a news conference, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker said that based on available video evidence, Long is the likely suspect in the shootings and that details will become even more clear as the investigation into the tragic murders continues. Baker said his officers are working with the FBI to determine a motive for the killings and that “nothing’s going to be ruled out.”
According to The Washington Post reporters, Baker said four victims were shot just before 5 p.m. inside Young’s Asian Massage Parlor along Highway 92, which is about 40 miles north of Atlanta. “Two died on the scene and two later died in a hospital,” they reported. “A fifth man, who was coming out of a nearby business, was wounded.”
At about 5:47 p.m., Sgt. John Chafee of the Atlanta Police Department said a gunman killed three women inside Gold Massage Spa, which is about 27 miles south of the first shooting.
“Police responded to a call of a ‘robbery in progress’ at Gold Massage Spa, and were still on the scene when shots were fired across the street inside Aromatherapy Spa,” the reporters added. “Officers found one woman inside that business who was also fatally shot.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Atlanta Police Department said “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.”
Armed with details of the alleged shooter’s vehicle, the Sheriff’s Office began a massive manhunt in an attempt to apprehend the suspect. Authorities posted photos of a dark-colored vehicle online, and within an hour had leads on his whereabouts. When officers spotted the 2007 black Hyundai Tucson on the highway, they performed a maneuver that caused the car to “spin out of control.” Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock said Long was arrested and taken into jail “without incident.”
The shootings have obviously triggered great concern among Asian American advocacy groups — especially during the ongoing onslaught of high-profile racially motivated attacks and hate crimes that have taken place in recent weeks.
“Right now there is a great deal of fear and pain in the Asian American community that must be addressed,” tweeted the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate, which has been tracking attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Few details have been released, including whether or not the shootings were related or motivated by hate. But right now there is a great deal of fear and pain in the Asian American community that must be addressed.
— Stop AAPI Hate (@StopAAPIHate) March 17, 2021
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden had been briefed “overnight about the horrific shootings in Atlanta.” According to the Post reporters, “White House officials have been in touch with the mayor’s office in Atlanta and the FBI.” Cities including New York and Seattle have also increased security in Asian portions of their cities in precaution over potential copycat attacks.
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