Police say Georgia massage parlor shootings were not racially motivated

New: Law enforcement officials say three shootings at metro Atlanta massage parlors do not appear to be racially motivated, but were instead motivated by the suspect’s alleged sex addiction.

“He made indicators that he has some issues, potentially sexual addiction, and may have frequented some of these places in the past,” said Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds.

According to Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Jay Baker, the suspect — identified as 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, took responsibility for the shootings and also told investigators they were not racially motivated.

“He 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,” Baker said.

The Story: A Woodstock man was arrested Tuesday night in connection with three fatal shootings at three different massage parlors.

What We Know: Two of the shootings occurred in East Atlanta near Piedmont Road at two massage parlors that were across the street from each other. The third shooting occurred at a massage parlor in Cherokee County at Hwy. 92 and Bells Ferry Road.

Eight people were killed in the shootings and one person was wounded.

21-year-old Robert Aaron Long in custody. He was apprehended in Crisp County Tuesday night.

The Cherokee County shooting occurred first at Young’s Asian Massage and the Atlanta shootings occurred about an hour later at Gold Massage Spa and Aroma Therapy Spa.

Authorities say Long was headed to Florida with the intent to commit similar acts to the shootings in Georgia.

Reaction: While police have indicated the killings were not racially motivated, political leaders were quick to condemn anti-Asian sentiment and believed this crime to be part of a growing tide of crimes against Asians on the heels of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus issued a statement on Twitter condemning the shooting and the recent increase in violence against Asian Americans.

“We’re horrified by the news coming out of GA at a time when we’re already seeing a spike in anti-Asian violence. Although details are still unfolding, at least half of the victims appear to be Asian American women. Our hearts go out to the victims & their families,” the CAPAC statement said.

Advocacy groups such as CAPAC say violence against Asian Americans is up as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Georgia Congresswoman Nikema Williams also condemned the shooting and linked it to anti-Asian violence. “

“Tonight’s attacks against members of Georgia’s Asian American community are absolutely horrifying. As details continue to emerge, this attack sadly follows the unacceptable pattern of violence against Asian Americans that has skyrocketed throughout this pandemic. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families, as well as the entire AAPI community in Georgia and across the country who have been heavily targeted with racism and hate,” Williams said. “An attack on our Asian American neighbors is an attack on us all, and will not go ignored or unanswered. Georgia Democrats stand in solidarity with our AAPI community and will fight for true accountability for this violence.” 

Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said a crime against one part of the Atlanta community is a crime against the entire community. “I commend law enforcement for their quick work in arresting a suspect in the tragic shootings on yesterday. A motive is still not clear, but a crime against any community is a crime against us all.  I have remained in close contact with the White House and APD as they work with federal, state and local partners to investigate the suspect who is responsible for this senseless violence in our city,” Bottoms said. “My prayers are with the families and friends of the victims whose lives were cut short by these shootings.”

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