At least one gunman killed eight people in three massage parlors in Atlanta on Tuesday, and police say they are investigating a motive for the brazen attacks.
Hours after the murders, a 21-year-old man was captured in southwest Georgia. Cherokee County Sheriff Jay Baker said Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, Georgia, was taken into custody Tuesday evening in Crisp County, about 150 miles south of Atlanta.
Baker said police believe Long was the suspect in all three shootings. Video evidence “suggests it is extremely likely” Long is the suspect in any attack, Atlanta Police Department Sgt. John Chafee said in a statement emailed to the US TODAY.
Atlanta police responded to demands for a robbery just before 6 p.m., Chafee said. Police found three women dead when they arrived at the spa.
While police were in the first scene, they received calls for shots fired at another massage parlor across the street, Chafee said. They went to the store and found another woman who had been fatally shot.
At around 5 p.m., five people were shot dead in Young’s Asian Massage Parlor in Acworth, about 30 miles north of Atlanta, Baker said. Two of the victims were dead and three were taken to hospital, where two of them also died, Baker said. The Cherokee Sheriff’s Office posted a photo of a suspect on Facebook on Tuesday evening.
The victims in the Acworth shooting were two Asian women, a white woman and a white man. Baker told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The fifth victim was a Spanish man who was injured and taken to hospital.
All four victims of the Atlanta shootings appeared to be Asian women, the Atlanta Journal’s Constitution told police.
“After these two massage parlor shootings occurred and the Cherokee County shootings became known, Zone 2 commanders quickly dispatched officers to investigate similar businesses nearby and patrols in those areas increased,” Chafee said.
The murders occurred in the middle of one The latest wave of attacks against Asian Americans coincided with the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.
“It’s un-American and it has to stop”:President Biden condemns attacks against Asian Americans
Crisp County MPs received information from Cherokee County’s Sheriff Frank Reynolds that Long was driving south in a black SUV at around 8 p.m., a Crisp County sheriff’s spokesman told USA TODAY. He was discovered by Georgia State Patrol soldiers and Crisp County MPs – a GSP soldier performed a PIT maneuver to stop Long, and he was arrested and taken to the Crisp County Detention Center.
“Many have asked if these shootings were related to the Cherokee County shootings,” Chafee said. “Video footage from our Video Integration Center placed the Cherokee County suspect’s vehicle in the Piedmont Road area around the time of our shooting. This, along with the video evidence viewed by investigators, suggests that our suspect is most likely with Cherokee County’s who is in custody. “
He added that an investigator from APD is in Cherokee County and the department is working to “confirm with certainty that our cases are related.”
Mary Morgan told USA TODAY that she had lived across from Long’s family for about 18 years. She described a “Christian family” who “took their children to church” even though she only knew them well enough to say hello.
She added that she didn’t know Long was back in the area.
Senator Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Said he prayed for the families of the victims and for peace in the ward. He added that his “heart is broken tonight after the tragic violence that took eight lives in Atlanta.”
“Once again we see that hatred is deadly,” he said said on twitter.
In a tweet, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said he appreciated Long’s “quick arrest” by police officers who captured Long, who was traveling on the freeway, before police stopped him.
“Our whole family prays for the victims of these horrific acts of violence,” said the governor.
Contributors: Dennis Wagner, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.