Police officials in Atlanta say that the man arrested in connection with three shootings at local massage parlors has "taken responsibility" and that he may have targeted parlors that he had frequented in the past.
The suspect, named as Robert Aaron Long 21, was taken into custody after a chase across county lines in Georgia, a politically volatile state that President Joe Biden won narrowly in a contested election that his rival Donald Trump refused to concede.
About an hour later, Atlanta police responded to reports of a robbery at Gold Spa in northeast Atlanta, where officers later found three women who had been shot dead.
"The reported shootings of multiple Asian American women today in Atlanta is an unspeakable tragedy -- for the families of the victims first and foremost, but also for the Asian American community, which has been reeling from high levels of racist attacks over the course of the past year", the group said. While they were at that scene, they learned of a call reporting shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, and found a woman who appeared to have been shot dead inside the business. Two people died at the scene and three were transported to a hospital, where two of them also died, Baker said.
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.
That was 12 people I think, so this is the worst one since I've been here."Bryant has declined to say whether police believe the shootings in Georgia Tuesday amounted to a hate crime, saying, "We can't make that determination just yet."Cherokee County Sheriff 's Capt. Jay Baker told reporters: "Nothing is going to be ruled out".
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan condemned the shootings "an act of hate", Police Chief Adrian Diaz is taking added precautions to protect Asian American communities in the city, including police patrols.
Authorities did not offer a possible motive for the shooting rampage and said they did not immediately know if the victims were targeted due to their race or ethnicity.
The killings come amid a wave of attacks against Asian Americans that has coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the US. "Because of this, an investigator from APD is in Cherokee County and we are working closely with them to confirm with certainty our cases are related". "This latest attack will only exacerbate the fear and pain that the Asian American community continues to endure".
Federal Bureau of Investigation spokesperson Kevin Rowson said the agency was helping Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities in the investigation.
Following the Georgia attacks, the hashtag #StopAsianHate began trending on Twitter.
"Shooting suspect in custody!" the county sheriff's office posted on Facebook.
Officers set up along the interstate and "made contact with the suspect", who was driving a 2007 black Hyundai Tucson, he said.
A state trooper performed a PIT, or pursuit intervention technique, manoeuvr, "which caused the vehicle to spin out of control", Hancock said.
Mr Long was then taken into custody "without incident".