Atlanta massage parlour shootings: What we know about suspect Robert Aaron Long

Atlanta massage parlour shootings: What we know about suspect Robert Aaron Long”

Eight people are dead, the majority of them women of Asian descent, after shootings at three massage parlours in the U.S. state of Georgia.

"We are still early in this investigation, so we can not make a determination at this moment", Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said.

About an hour later and 30 miles away, Atlanta police responded to what was described as a robbery at the Gold Massage Spa on Piedmont Road in Atlanta.

Three people were killed in the shooting at Young's Asian Massage near Acworth, a suburb of Georgia's capital city Atlanta, CNN reported, citing a Cherokee County sheriff's spokesman. Cherokee County deputies were called onto the scene, where two people were pronounced dead and three were rushed to the hospital, where two of them later died.

Police said surveillance video showed the suspect's vehicle at all three locations, and that they were very confident the same shooter was responsible for the attacks.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp praised law enforcement officials for their response to the shootings, and said he was "praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence".

Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Ga., was in custody Tuesday night in connection with fatal shootings at massage parlors in the Atlanta area.

Authorities in the area, known as Atlanta's Zone 2, said they are increasing patrols around similar businesses, and FBI spokesperson Kevin Rowson said the agency is assisting with the investigations.

"Michelle and I pray for the victims, their families, everyone grieving these needless and devastating killings - and we urge meaningful action that will save lives".

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The ministry said the office of its Consulate General in Atlanta is trying to confirm the nationality of the women.

Officials say it is still too early to know whether the attack, in which six Asian women were killed, was racially motivated.

A state trooper performed a manoeuvre "which caused the vehicle to spin out of control", Sheriff Hancock said.

Long was then taken into custody "without incident" and was being held in Crisp County jail for Cherokee County authorities who were expected to arrive later to continue their investigation.

Organisations such as the Asian American Pacific Islander had warned for more than a year that hate incidents against Asians in the United States were rising from the xenophobic stance of right-wing politicians, recoding almost 4000 attacks since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. "But right now there is a great deal of fear and pain in the Asian American community that must be addressed". The Asian American community, she said, "has been facing a relentless increase in attacks and harassment over the past year".

However, hate crimes against Asian-Americans have spiked in recent months, fuelled by rhetoric that blames them for the spread of Covid-19.

"AAPI Americans are once again being targeted, harassed, attacked, and killed in Georgia and communities across America", she wrote.

In New York, the NYPD's Counterterrorism Bureau said on Twitter it will also deploy additional officers to protect Asian communities in the city "out of an abundance of caution".

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