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Atlanta shootings: Suspect charged with murder as victims identified
Published : Thursday, 18 March, 2021 at 2:16 PM, Count : 94

Atlanta shootings: Suspect charged with murder as victims identified

Atlanta shootings: Suspect charged with murder as victims identified

The alleged gunman who killed eight people at massage parlours in Atlanta, Georgia, has been charged with murder as police begin to identify victims, reports BBC. 

Officials cannot yet confirm if the attack, in which six Asian women were killed, was racially motivated. Four victims were named on Wednesday.

The suspect faces multiple counts of murder as well as aggravated assault.

Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said the suspect may have been a patron and claimed to have a "sex addiction".

The attack comes amid a sharp uptick in crimes against Asian-Americans.

Four of the victims have been identified as Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44. Elcias R Hernandez-Ortiz was identified as having been injured.

What did police say?

In a news conference on Wednesday, investigators said suspect Robert Aaron Long admitted to the shooting spree, and said that he denied that the attack was motivated by race.

Mr Long has been charged with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault, according to the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department.

"He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate," said Capt Jay Baker, adding that Mr Long was caught with a 9mm handgun and did not resist arrest.

Massage parlours are known to sometimes provide prostitution services, but authorities say there is no indication yet that this is the case at the targeted locations.

"These are legally operating businesses that have not been on our radar," said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who added that the city would not engage in "victim shaming, victim blaming".

Police also noted it is still too early in the investigation to definitively state a motive and that the suspect appeared to have been acting alone.

Ms Bottoms said that he was on his way to Florida, possibly to commit more shootings, when he was arrested.

The suspect's parents helped to identify him, officials told reporters.

According to CBS News, the suspect told investigators that "he loved God and guns".

What do we know about the shootings?

The first happened at about 17:00 (21:00 GMT) on Tuesday at Young's Asian Massage in Acworth, Cherokee County.

Two people died at the scene and three were taken to hospital, where two more died, sheriff's office spokesman Capt Baker said. He later confirmed the victims were two Asian women, a white woman and a white man, and said a Hispanic man had been wounded.

Less than an hour later, police were called to a "robbery in progress" at Gold Spa in north-east Atlanta. In the recording of the 911 call released on Wednesday, a woman tells the dispatcher that she's hiding from the assailant.

"Do you have a description of the male?" the operator asks.

"We're hiding right now," the woman replies. "They have a gun."

"Please come, ok?" she says.

When authorities arrived at the spa, "officers located three females deceased inside the location from apparent gunshot wounds", police said.

While there, officers were called to a spa across the street, called Aromatherapy Spa, where they found another woman shot dead.

On a second 911 call, a woman tells the operator that she got a call from a friend who said a man had entered the spa and fired a gun.

"They said some guy came in... We heard a gunshot and the lady's passed out in front of the door," she says. "And everybody is scared and everybody is hiding."





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