UPDATED: 9:05 a.m. ET, March 17
A suspected white supremacist was arrested and charged with murder for allegedly going on a deadly shooting spree at an Asian massage parlor and two spas in the metro Atlanta area Tuesday afternoon, leaving at least eight people dead, including six Asian women. The suspect was identified as 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long.
There were no immediate reports of the gunman’s motivation.
Long was arrested in nearby Crisp County around 8:30 p.m. and booked into Crisp County Sheriff’s Office, which released his mugshot.
All three shootings were carried out in about 45 minutes.
The FBI officially joined the investigation into the shootings that came as violent attacks and hate crimes against Asians were spiking across the country.
However, the sheriff in Cherokee County has somehow already concluded that there is no indication the shootings were motivated by racism, according to local news outlet WSB-TV. I was unclear how that conclusion was reached in the 12-hour span since Long was arrested. But WSB-TV is still reporting that “Long allegedly picked the locations that he knew specifically.”
Four people were found dead in Young’s Asian Massage Parlor in Cherokee County, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Long was arrested specifically for that shooting while authorities see if he’s linked to the other shootings.
In that shooting, which took place at about 5 p.m., five people were shot, including two who were pronounced dead at the scene and two others who later died from their injuries.
Two other massage parlors were targeted two hours later, leaving an additional four people dead.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also reported that “most” of the employees at the three establishments were Asian. The victims at the first location reportedly included two Asian women and a white man and white woman. According to reports, a Hispanic man was injured but was not reported dead Tuesday night.
The other four people killed at the two other locations were reportedly all Asian women.
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department released images of the suspect about an hour and a half after the first shooting was reported.
Multiple members of local law enforcement said they thought Long was the gunman at all three locations.
“It does appear that it’s the same suspect,” Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Jay Baker told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
According to Heavy.com, Long is a resident of a town called Woodstock, which is located about a 30-minute drive north of Atlanta. The location where he was arrested in Crisp County is about 200 miles away from Woodstock and about 150 miles south of Atlanta.
Long initially fled when approached by law enforcement, according to one report. Amazingly, the suspected mass shooter who was considered armed and dangerous was able to be taken into custody without police shooting him, let alone killing him.
Recent reports of anti-Asian attacks in the U.S. have become increasingly frequent. A new report released Tuesday found that nearly 3,800 anti-Asian incidents took place during the 12 months of the pandemic, something that racist conspiracy theorists have blamed on China.
As a result of Tuesday night’s deadly attacks near Atlanta, the NYPD sent its officers trained in counterterrorism deployments to Asian neighborhoods in New York City “out of an abundance of caution.”
One of the major proponents of pushing the debunked narrative of China being responsible for COVID-19 has been former President Donald Trump. He called it “the China virus” as well as the “Kung Flu” on numerous occasions.
That truth increases the chances of Long, the suspected gunman behind Tuesday’s shootings, being a likely supporter and avid follower of Trump — similar to the thousands of people who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 election for Joe Biden because Trump said he was the victim of fraud that caused him to lose.
The Washington Post reported about a year ago that Trump’s racist labeling of COVID-19 as “the China virus” could lead to violence.
“It’s racist and it creates xenophobia,” Harvey Dong, a lecturer in Asian American and Asian diaspora studies with the University of California at Berkeley, said at the time. “It’s a very dangerous situation.”
This is a developing story that will be updated as additional information becomes available.
Suspected White Supremacist ID’ed After Deadly Shooting Spree At Asian Massage Parlor, Spas Near Atlanta was originally published on newsone.com