Suspect in Georgia spa shootings charged with murder of eight

Authorities investigate a fatal shooting at a massage parlor late Tuesday March 16 in Acworth Ga

Authorities investigate a fatal shooting at a massage parlor late Tuesday March 16 in Acworth Ga

Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, Georgia, faces eight counts of murder and one charge of aggravated assault for Tuesday's shootings at three Atlanta massage parlors, in which six of the eight people killed were women of Asian descent.

Police have said suspect Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man, has so far denied a racist motive for the three shootings in the southern U.S. state of Georgia.

Even though my children are intrinsically tied to Asian culture through their ancestors, we can all raise children with an empathic connection to diverse groups, like Asian Americans, that make our country so vibrant.

"Whatever the motivation was for this guy, we know that the majority of the victims were Asian", Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at a news conference Wednesday.

A report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism this month showed that hate crimes against Asian Americans in 16 major USA cities rose by 149% from 2019 to 2020, a period when overall hate crimes dropped 7%.

A post from March 30, 2020, said, "Place your order while they last", with a smiley emoji next to an image of T-shirts for sale that read, "Covid-19 Imported from Chy-na".

At Aromatherapy Spa, where one woman was killed, the "Open" and "Welcome" signs were still lit.

Authorities said the shootings may not be racially motivated, and that the suspect told investigators he had a sexual addiction and may have frequented some of the locations in the past.

Long told police that the attacks were not racially motivated.

For Sarah Park, president of the Korean American Coalition - Metro Atlanta, the racism involved in the spa attacks is clear.

On Tuesday night, the Seattle Police Department said that it would increase patrols and outreach to support the Asian American communities in the city.

California Representative Judy Chu reminded people of the effect of anti-Asian rhetoric. "It's critical that Congress takes bold action to address this pandemic of discrimination and hate".

He said the coronavirus pandemic, which has left more than half a million Americans dead, had exacerbated "latent anti-Asian prejudices that have a long, long and ugly history in America".

The comments were criticized as inappropriate and insensitive to the victims.

"Your president, and your party, and your colleagues can talk about issues with any other country that you want, but you don't have to do it by putting a bull's eye on the back of Asian-Americans across this country, on our grandparents, on our kids", Meng said. "We should take security measure, for self-defense". The official Twitter account of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus wrote that its members are "horrified by the a time when we're already seeing a spike in anti-Asian violence".

Biden ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House and other public buildings until sunset on Monday as a mark of respect for the Atlanta victims. "I am waiting for an answer from - as the investigation proceeds - from the FBI and from the Justice Department", he said before hosting a bilateral meeting with the prime minister of Ireland. "I'll have more to say when the investigation is completed".

"The recent attacks against the community are un-American", he tweeted.

Ling went on to say that "After this attack on the massage parlor, I saw people posting messages about solidarity and about standing up for Asian people", but asked "How many people have to die for this to really be taken seriously, for there to be more than lip service?"

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