ATLANTA — A gunman suspected of killing eight people, most of them women of Asian descent, at three Atlanta-area spas is anticipated to be arraigned Thursday morning on a number of murder prices.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Georgia, is going through 4 murder prices in connection to shootings at two spas in northeast Atlanta, in addition to 4 murder prices and one depend of assault in connection to a taking pictures at third spa in Cherokee County.
Authorities say Long opened hearth at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth on Tuesday night, killing 4 folks and injuring a fifth, earlier than driving 30 miles into Atlanta and killing 4 extra folks at two spas, Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa. Long was arrested about 150 miles south of Atlanta. Police mentioned Wednesday he was heading to Florida and meant to perform extra shootings as spas there.
Police mentioned Long instructed authorities his actions had been motivated by a intercourse addition, not race, and he might have frequented a few of the spas the place the shootings occurred. “He was attempting to take out that temptation,” Cherokee County sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker mentioned.
But many specialists and high Asian American lawmakers say it is laborious not to see racism inextricably tied to the killings due to a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus throughout the United States.
Visual timeline:What happened at Atlanta spa shootings
Here’s what we all know proper now:
Who had been the victims?
Seven girls and one man had been killed within the string of assaults, nearly all of whom had been of Asian descent.
In Cherokee County, the victims had been Delaina Ashley Yuan, 33, of Acworth; Paul Andre Michels, 54, of Atlanta; Xiaojie Yan, 49, of Kennesaw; and Daoyou Feng, 44. A 30-year-old Hispanic man was injured.
All 4 victims of the Atlanta shootings had been Asian girls, police mentioned. Police had not but launched their names Thursday morning. Meanwhile, the South Korean Foreign Ministry mentioned its diplomats in Atlanta confirmed 4 of the ladies had been of Korean descent.
Yuan leaves behind a 13-year-old son and 8-month-old daughter. He mom, Margaret Rushing, instructed WAGA-TV, that her daughter and son-in-law went to the spa on a date. When the taking pictures occurred, Yaun’s husband locked himself in a room and wasn’t injured, mentioned Yuan’s half-sister, Dana Toole.
“He’s taking it hard,” Toole mentioned. “He was there. He heard the gunshots and everything. You can’t escape that when you’re in a room and gunshots are flying – what do you do?”
Paul Michels, who additionally died on the spa in Acworth, owned an alarm firm in Atlanta, the place he and his spouse, Bonnie, have lived 26 years, his brother John mentioned.
He believes his brother was “just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” They grew up with 9 siblings in Detriot, driving dust bikes and spending summer season weekends at a lake and entering into mischief collectively, he mentioned. They each served within the U.S. Army on the identical time and his brother served as an infantryman within the late Eighties.
“I’m the closest in age, so we were basically like twins,” John, 52, mentioned. “We did everything together growing up.”
Even in grief, John insisted on placing out a message to the alleged slayer: “Although this is a tragedy, I forgive that man and so will Jesus Christ … I cannot hate him for it. I pray for his repentance.”
‘It simply actually hit dwelling’:Georgia killings leave unforgettable mark on local businesses
What else do we all know concerning the suspect?
Atlanta police Wednesday launched audio from the 911 calls to each spas there. In one of many calls, a lady at Gold Spa instructed the operator that there was a theft ongoing. She mentioned a white man had a gun and that she was hiding. During the second name, a lady mentioned she was not at Aromatherapy Spa however that her good friend referred to as her and was hiding in a again room after man shot a lady.
Cherokee County sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker mentioned a 9mm firearm was recovered from Long’s automobile. He bought a firearm Tuesday – the day of the assaults – from Big Woods Goods, a sporting good story in Cherokee County. Matt Kilgo, the store’s lawyer, mentioned his purchasers are “fully cooperating” with police.
During an interview with Atlanta police, Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies and FBI officers, Long mentioned his actions weren’t racially motivated, Reynolds mentioned.
“He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and 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 mentioned.
Long had been in rehab for intercourse dependancy and felt guilty about his sexual urges, in accordance to two individuals who lived with him in transitional housing.
Baker mentioned Long believed there was “some type of porn industry” in Florida that he meant to confront and that he was on his method to the state when he was apprehended.
Authorities mentioned the one police report on file with the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office mentioning Long was from 2019 when the then-19-year-old ran off together with his girlfriend and was reported lacking by his mother and father. “Their son sent them a text stating he was not returning home and wanted a fresh start,” the report states.
What do we all know concerning the spas?
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms mentioned that the Atlanta spas weren’t on police’s radar: “As far as we know in Atlanta, these are legally operating businesses,” she mentioned.
But early indicators point out the companies might not have been totally above-board, leaving the ladies working there notably weak to abuse and violence. All three spas are listed on an erotic overview web site that enables customers to seek for and overview illicit therapeutic massage parlors.
Aromatherapy Spa and Gold Spa have round 100 opinions, many latest. A overview for Gold Spa on March 9 indicated that it was “full service,” as did an analogous overview from 5 days prior. A overview for Aromatherapy Spa on March 2 additionally indicated intercourse was on the service listing. Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Georgia, has 39 opinions, the most recent posted in February.
One of the eight victims, Xiaojie Tan, was listed because the proprietor of a restricted legal responsibility company related to Young’s Asian Massage. The LLC additionally owns Wang’s Feet & Body Massage, a spa in neighboring Kennesaw additionally listed on the overview web site.
The opinions, coupled with promoting for 24-hour companies, are purple flags, mentioned Elizabeth Kim, the chief working officer of Restore NYC, a nonprofit that works to present housing and financial options for survivors of trafficking.
Were the assaults concentrating on folks of Asian descent?
Local police mentioned Wednesday that it was too quickly to inform whether or not the killings on the therapeutic massage parlors were a hate crime. But Yale University Sociology Department chair Grace Kao, an professional on Asian American research, mentioned it was laborious to disentangle race from the killings.
The shooter had focused Asian American girls, and given how “Asian American women have been viewed as exotic and feminine objects in U.S. mass media and suspected of prostitution from the earliest U.S. immigration restrictions,” the suspect may simply have considered Asian American girls in the identical method, she mentioned.
“If you talk to the average Asian American woman, most of us have been subject to varying degrees of sexual harassment that targets our gender and racial identities,” Kao mentioned. “They do not exist separately in the lives of individuals.”
Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen mentioned the shootings seem to be on the “intersection of gender-based violence, misogyny and xenophobia.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, the primary African American and South Asian American lady to be elected vice chairman, referred to as the incident “tragic.”
“The investigation is ongoing, we don’t yet know, we’re not yet clear about the motive. But 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.”
Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, mentioned the “crimes are beyond terrifying, but it just brings home to so many Asian Americans that they are fearful of their lives and circumstances” as they confronted each the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in hate incidents.
She mentioned her group of lawmakers met with the Department of Justice to focus on a nationwide rise in hate incidents and “we are right now determining actions against AAPI hate.” She referred to as for the passage of laws to enhance hate crime reporting and likewise for the institution of a nationwide day to converse out in opposition to anti-Asian American hate on March 26.
Additionally, Baker, the Cherokee County sheriff spokesperson, confronted criticism Wednesday after a Facebook web page showing to belong to him promoted a T-shirt with racist language about China and the coronavirus final yr. Baker additionally drew scrutiny for saying Long was having a “bad day” when he carried out the shootings.
Where to donate, how to help Asian communities
Stop AAPI Hate, a gaggle that tracks acts of discrimination and xenophobia in opposition to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, discovered that round 3,800 incidents of hate, discrimination or assaults on Asian Americans occurred from March 2020 by way of February 2021. You can donate to that cause here.
New anti-hate crime legislation is ready to be launched in each chambers of Congress, following govt orders from President Joe Biden addressing the assaults.
Several GoFundMe fundraisers have been began for the victims and for the Asian American group — the location has began a hub of verifiable fundraisers.
There are extra methods you can help be an ally, together with studying up on the historical past of anti-Asian racism and what to do when you see anti-Asian racism.
Contributing: Nicholas Wu, Cara Kelly, Christal Hayes, USA TODAY; The Associated Press