UNITED STATES: Eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, were shot dead in a string of attacks on Atlanta-area day spas on Tuesday. The man behind the attack was arrested by the police for eight counts of murder.
The brazen shootings, which took the lives of six women of Asian descent, have triggered outrage in the Asian-American community. However, officials have not yet confirmed if the Atlanta attack was racially motivated.
In a news conference, investigators said that the man behind the gun, Robert Aaron Long, 21 has admitted to the shooting spree. However, he has denied claims that the Atlanta attack was motivated by race. Chief Rodney Bryant said that it was too early in the investigation to make a determination on the anti-Asian angle.
The authorities charged Long on Wednesday with eight counts of murder and one of aggravated assault in connection to the shootings. Four of the murder counts and the assault charge relating to the first shooting that happened in Cherokee County, and the other four murder counts stem from the shootings at two spas in the city of Atlanta less than an hour later, the authorities reported.
Capt Jay Baker said that Long apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees such locations as a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate. Capt Baker later added that Long did not resist arrest and was caught with a 9mm handgun.
Massage parlors sometimes also provide prostitution services, but according to authorities, there is no indication yet that this is the case at the targeted locations.
Police have said it is still too early in the investigation to definitively point out a motive and that the suspect appeared to have been acting alone. Long was on his way to Florida, possibly to commit more shootings when he was arrested. Officials told reporters that the suspect’s parents helped identify him. According to CBS News, during the investigation, the suspect stated that “he loved God and guns”.
Angst, fear, and tears have been reactions to the Atlanta shooting incident, stirring the internet against anti-Asian hate crimes, which activists have linked to rhetoric blaming Asian people for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around 100 people did a candlelight march in Chinatown, mourning the eight lives lost in Atlanta, six of them having Asian roots.
Ahead of a virtual meeting with the Irish prime minister, President Joe Biden expressed his concern over the troubling situation. He also reassured him that an investigation was going on. The president tweeted that he and his first lady were “Keeping everyone impacted by the shootings in Atlanta in our prayers.”
Vice-President Kamala Harris, who is the first woman and first Asian-American to hold office also condemned the shootings. Expressing her disappointment she said, “I do want to say to our Asian-American community that we stand with you.”