The first shooting took place at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Young’s Asian Massage in the Atlanta suburb of Acworth; four people were killed — two Asian women as well as a white man and woman — and one Hispanic male was injured.
Roughly 45 minutes later, police were called to the Gold Spa in Atlanta — 30 miles from the previous shooting — where they discovered three more women shot and killed. Another female victim was found at the Aromatherapy Spa across the street, the New York Times reported.
A male suspect — 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long of Woodstock, Georgia, 150 miles away from Atlanta — was later apprehended following a manhunt after surveillance footage placed his 2007 black Hyundai Tucson near one of the shootings. The Crisp County Sheriffs Office said Long was “arrested without incident and transported to the Crisp County Detention Center.”
“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.”
South Korea’s foreign ministry said that four of the victims were of Korean descent, the New York Times reports. While police did not speculate on the motive, the shootings clearly targeted the Asian-American community, which has seen a huge uptick in anti-Asian racism and violent incidents during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“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,” the non-profit Stop AAPI Hate tweeted Tuesday. “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.”
U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu of California tweeted, “My heart goes out to the families of the victims of another mass shooting. Many of the victims are Asian. These murders occurred at a time when anti-Asian violence has been spiking. All officials should do their part to condemn violence and not inflame further discrimination.”
“My heart is broken tonight after the tragic violence in Atlanta that took eight lives. Once again we see that hate is deadly,” Georgia Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock tweeted. “Praying for the families of the victims and for peace for the community.”
Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement: “The President has been briefed overnight about the horrific shootings in Atlanta. White House officials have been in touch with the Mayor’s office and will remain in touch with the FBI.”