Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock in Cherokee County, was taken into custody at about 8:30 p.m. in Crisp County after the attacks.
Eight people, including six women of Asian descent and a white man and woman, were shot dead in three attacks on Atlanta-area spas on March 17. A 21-year-old man is suspected of carrying out all of the shootings. He was arrested hours later in southern Georgia, police said, according to Reuters. There is video evidence that "it is extremely likely" that the same person perpetrated all of the attacks on the massage parlors in the metro Atlanta area, police were reported as saying by CNN.
One person was also wounded in the attacks. The suspect opened fire on two spas that were across the street from each other in northeast Atlanta. The other one took place about 30 miles away in Cherokee County.
"Video footage from our Video Integration Center places the Cherokee County suspect's vehicle in the area, around the time of our Piedmont Road shootings," the Atlanta Police Department said in a news release. "That, along with video evidence viewed by investigators, suggests it is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County's, who is in custody. Because of this, an investigator from APD is in Cherokee County and we are working closely with them to confirm with certainty our cases are related."
Eight people were killed and one other was wounded on Tuesday in a series of shootings at massage parlors in the Atlanta area.— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) March 17, 2021
Four people died in the earliest shooting, at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, a northwest suburb of Atlanta, police said.https://t.co/NbLppFxZrp
The first shooting took place around 5 p.m. at Young's Asian Massage in Cherokee County where four people died, according to CBS News. Two of the shooting victims died in the hospital, according to the Cherokee County Sheriff's office. There was a fifth victim, who was injured and taken to the hospital. Later, three more people were killed at Gold Spa on Piedmont Road in Atlanta.
"Upon arrival, officers located three females deceased inside the location from apparent gunshot wounds," police said in a statement.
Even as officers were responding to that attack, the suspect reportedly opened fire across the street at Aromatherapy Spa. One person was killed there.
BREAKING: A mass shooter in Atlanta shot and killed seven people at multiple area spas, including four people who appear to be Asian women.— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) March 17, 2021
The shooting spree comes amid a rise in racist attacks against Asian Americans. #gapol https://t.co/5GoEVmv2lE
The surviving victim was a Hispanic man, according to Reuters. All four victims who died in Atlanta were of Asian descent. After the attacks, a 21-year-old white male, Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock in Cherokee County, was taken into custody at about 8:30 p.m. in Crisp County. The authorities released a photo of Long. Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department said that the authorities were "very confident" Long was the gunman in all three shootings.
He was arrested after a highway pursuit by Georgia state police and Crisp County Sheriff's deputies. They used a tactical driving maneuver to stop the suspect's vehicle, sheriff's officials said later. He didn't resist arrest after that.
Photos of suspect Robert Aaron Long, 21 white male from Woodstock , GA, per Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office— Dianne Gallagher (@DianneG) March 17, 2021
Photos from Cherokee County Sheriff’s office of suspect outside of Young’s Asian Spa in Acworth, GA— where 4 people were murdered and one was injured in a shooting pic.twitter.com/dSj2GkawZL
The motive for the attacks was not immediately clear, however, there has been a spurt in hate crimes against Asians in America. The authorities also said that it's not known if the victims were targeted because of their race/ethnicity.
#BREAKING Robert Aaron Long, the suspected gunman in the Cherokee County massage parlor shooting has been caught following a chase in Crisp County. Also, death toll now at four in Cherokee. @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/iIBJV7HcbO— Chris Jose (@ChrisJoseWSB) March 17, 2021
The increase in hate crimes is reportedly because of the rhetoric that blames them for the coronavirus epidemic, writes BBC. Civil rights groups have accused former President Donald Trump of fanning those flames by referring to the coronavirus as the “China virus,” since the virus first emerged there, according to Reuters.
Robert Aaron Long. They’ll say it wasn’t a hate crime. They’ll say he was a “lone wolf”. They’ll say he was bullied and has mental health issues. They might even say that he “suffered from financial insecurity”. He murdered 8 Asian human beings today. He hunted them and killed. pic.twitter.com/wxjEKbqHSN— Dr. Neumann (is leading with love) (@DrBibiNeumann1) March 17, 2021
President Joe Biden had addressed the nation last week condemning the "vicious hate crimes against Asian-Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated." Since then, NYPD's counter-terrorism branch said that even though there is no known connection to New York City, the department "will be deploying assets to our great Asian communities across the city out of an abundance of caution."
The advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate [Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders] called it "an unspeakable tragedy".
The reported shootings of Asian American women on Tuesday in Atlanta is an unspeakable tragedy – for the families of the victims first and foremost, but also for the AAPI community — which has been reeling from high levels of racial discrimination. https://t.co/rBVPnrEBps— Stop AAPI Hate (@StopAAPIHate) March 17, 2021
Ben Crump, a leading civil rights lawyer, also tweeted, saying, "Today's tragic killings in #Atlanta reaffirm the need for us to step up and protect ALL of America's marginalised minorities from racism."
Today’s tragic killings in #Atlanta reaffirm the need for us to step up and protect ALL of America’s marginalized minorities from racism. 🙏🏾— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) March 17, 2021
Cover image source: Twitter | Photo by Cherokee County Sherrif via Dianne Gallagher / @DianneGDisclaimer : This is based on sources and we have been unable to verify this information independently.