Cherokee County Sheriff defended the spokesperson and added that Baker didn't intend to sympathize with the perpetrator.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of race-motivated violence that some readers may find distressing.
Captain Jay Baker of Cherokee County sheriff's office is facing a backlash after stating the suspect of the Atlanta spa shooting killed people because he was having a "bad day." Baker was accused of playing down the gravity of the crime and sympathizing with the perpetrator. Robert Aaron Long, a White man, was arrested in connection with shootings at three massage parlors in Atlanta that resulted in the death of eight people. The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office defended Baker claiming his words were misconstrued when he said the alleged shooter was having a "bad day," reported NBC News.
Baker made the comments during a press conference addressing the incident. "He understood the gravity of it," said Baker of the shooter, before adding, "He was pretty much fed up, and kind of at [the] end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.”
"Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did" -- a law enforcement official explains Robert Aaron Long's decision to kill 8 people in a strange manner pic.twitter.com/u0zFcqjbNK— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 17, 2021
The comments were met with heavy criticism, forcing the Cherokee County sheriff's office to address them. "They were not intended to disrespect any of the victims, the gravity of this tragedy, or express empathy or sympathy for the suspect," said Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds, referring to the comments made by the spokesperson. "There are simply no words to describe the degree of human suffering experienced on Tuesday ... in our community and in Atlanta," read the statement from Reynolds.
Of the eight people who died, six were of Asian descent, raising suspicions of the shootings being motivated by race. Baker had claimed that an early investigation had revealed that Long's crime was the result of a "sex addiction" and he saw the spas as sources of temptation. “He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places, and it’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” said Baker. Long faces eight counts of murder and one count of assault.
Dude made a conscious decision to go murder a bunch of people, mostly Asian Americans. That’s not a “bad day.” Locking my keys in my car is a bad day. This asshole is a Terrorist! Bottom line. https://t.co/hbIyYN1xji— Hurricane Helms (@ShaneHelmsCom) March 17, 2021
Baker didn't mention anything about race being a factor in the shootings. It was later reported that Baker himself was guilty of promoting racist merchandise on his Facebook wall, in April 2020, that blamed China for the Coronavirus pandemic. Baker had shared an image of T-shirts designed like a Corona beer label that said "Covid 19 IMPORTED VIRUS FROM CHY-NA," reported Buzzfeed News. He wrote, "Love my shirt. Get yours while they last." The post was hidden from his profile after the news broke.
every time I see the clip again of the law official saying the shooter "had a bad day" my blood pressure spikes again because I remember how Asian women are not really allowed to be angry at work and several women were deemed "too emotional" for the US presidency— Karen K. Ho (@karenkho) March 17, 2021
Baker's post added fuel to the fire with some speculating that he may have played down the race angle in the shootings. Reynolds defended Baker in a statement. "I have known and served with Captain Baker for many years. His personal ties to the Asian community and his unwavering support and commitment to the citizens of Cherokee County are well known to many. On behalf of the dedicated women and men of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office we regret any heartache Captain Baker's words may have caused," said Reynolds.
Hey Captain Jay Baker with Cherokee Country Sheriff's Office... this you? pic.twitter.com/1pTlwSlYZQ— Rich Phelps (@RichPhelps) March 17, 2021
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images