Politics

FBI director says Atlanta spa shootings “do not appear to be racially motivated”

In response to the recent shooting at three different Atlanta spas on the night of Tuesday, March 16, FBI director Christopher Wray told NPR, “While the motive remains still under investigation, at the moment, it does not appear that the motive was racially motivated.”

Eight people were killed at three different Atlanta spas within an hour of each other on Tuesday night. At 4:50 PM, police arrived at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Georgia, about thirty miles north of Atlanta. Police found five people shot. Two were dead inside, two more died at a later time in a hospital, and the fifth victim remains hospitalized in stable condition. At 5:47 PM, police arrived at Gold Massage Spa in Atlanta, located about twenty-seven miles south of the first shooting. Police found three women shot dead inside the spa. Moments later, they received reports of shots fired at a third spa, Aroma Therapy Spa, directly across the street from Gold Massage Spa. 

One woman was found shot fatally dead. Atlanta police recovered video footage from surveillance cameras of the suspect, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long. At around 8 PM, Georgia State Patrol and Crisp County, GA deputies were alerted that the suspect was travelling south on Interstate 75 in a black 2007 Hyundai Tucson. Long was arrested immediately and a 9mm firearm was identified inside his vehicle. The victims included Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, 30; Soon C. Park, 74; Hyun J. Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong A. Yue, 63. Reportedly, two of the victims were white, the other six victims were Asian-American, and seven victims were women. 

As the investigation into the shooting continues, officials have pointed out some of the shooter’s possible motives. Reportedly, Cherokee County Sheriff Captain Jay Baker believes Robert Aaron Long opened fire because he saw the locations as an “outlet for him” to surrender to “sex-addicted temptations.” Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds stated that the suspect may have a “sexual addiction” and had attended the Atlanta parlors in the past. 

Many have been speaking out against rising anti-Asian violence, claiming this attack was a racially-motivated hate crime. It’s reported that Inhe Choi, the executive director of Chicago’s HANA Center, a Korean-American community organization, stated, “Our community is horrified — there’s a lot of fear, anger, just appalled at what’s happened.” Texas Representative Gene Wu of Houston told NPR, “The Asian American community was dreading this day, and we were preparing for it.” Mayor of Atlanta Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN, “He [Wray] claims that it was not racially motivated, that this was based on some sex addiction, but I’m taking that with a grain of salt… This is a man who murdered eight people in cold blood, so it’s very difficult to believe what he says.” However, Reynolds said it is too early into the investigation to declare whether or not Long’s crime was motivated by hate. Local and national law enforcement will continue to investigate the crime. 

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ARTICLE: EVA SALGADO

FBA US NEWS EDITOR: CARSON WOLF

PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK MAGAZINE

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