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Suspect in Atlanta Spa Shootings Charged for Murder

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Atlanta police have charged a man over the murder of 8 people at massage parlours in the Atlanta spa shootings in Georgia. The main suspect, named Robert Aaron Long, now faces multiple counts of murder and aggravated assault. Despite 6 of the 8 victims being Asian women, police officials are claiming that the assailant was not racially motivated but instead had a “sex addiction”. This attack came after a recent report that showed a spike in hate crimes and attacks on Asian-Americans.

Four of the victims of the Atlanta Spa Shooting have been identified as 33-year-old Ashley Yaun, Paul 54-year-old Andre Michels, 49-year-old Xiaojie Tan, and 44-year-old Daoyou Feng. 6 of the victims were ethnically identified as Asian-Americans. However, Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said that the attack was not racially motivated. Instead, they say the assailant committed the shootings because of his “sex addiction”. The 21-year-old Long is a resident of Woodstock, Georgia has denied that race motivated him to attack the spa.

Captain Jay Baker of the Georgia Sheriff’s department said about the shooter:

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.

However, Capt. Baker’s one comment related to the Georgia spa shootings garnered a lot of criticism. He said:

yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did…

As a result, Baker received criticism from Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who said that the city does not engage in “victim shaming” and “victim-blaming”. That said, the police did agree that it is too soon to define a motive in the Atlanta Spa Shootings.

What happened in the Atlanta Spa Shootings?

Suspect in Atlanta Spa Shootings Charged for Murder

The first of the shootings happened on Tuesday at about 17:00 (21:00 GMT), at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Cherokee County. 2 people died on the spot, whereas 3 were injured, with both victims being Asian women. An hour later, the other shooting took place at Gold Spa in northeast Atlanta. The woman who reported the incident was hiding from the assailant, saying on the call to 911:

We’re hiding right now. They have a gun. Please come, ok?

When the police reached the spa, three women were dead because of gunshot wounds. Across the street, the police found another woman dead at the Aromatherapy Spa. The caller told the police:

They said some guy came in… We heard a gunshot and the lady’s passed out in front of the door. And everybody is scared and everybody is hiding.

After studying the CCTV footage, the investigators were able to identify and release pictures of the suspect. After a manhunt, the police arrested Robert Aaron Long in Crisp County, which is located 150 miles south of Atlanta.

The reaction to the incident

As a result of the shooting, there is a lot of fear in the Asian-American community. People have lit vigils for the victims throughout the United States, and there are sentiments of fear, anger, and despair among the community. However, this isn’t an isolated incident. There has been a rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans during the pandemic. And a lot of it has been a result of Former President Donald Trump’s remarks, blaming the virus on China and calling COVID-19 the “China Virus”.

Despite the authorities not labelling the shooting as “racially charged,” people online have highlighted the rise in racism against Asian-Americans. The Stop AAPI Hate group, who track attacks on the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities called the shooting an “unspeakable tragedy,” saying:

Right now there is a great deal of fear and pain in the Asian-American community that must be addressed.

Mayor Bottom said about the Atlanta Spa Shootings:

A motive is still not clear, but a crime against any community is a crime against us all.

Furthermore, President Joe Biden tweeted in solidarity with the victims of the Atlanta Spa Shootings, saying:

Jill and I are keeping everyone impacted by the shootings in Atlanta in our prayers. We don’t yet know the motive, but what we do know is that the Asian-American community is feeling enormous pain tonight. The recent attacks against the community are un-American. They must stop.

Vice President Kamala Harris also expressed similar sentiments, saying in a meeting with Irish officials:

I do want to say to our Asian-American community that we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged all people.

Atlanta police have now increased the number of police officers protecting spa-like business centres.

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