ATLANTA – The shooter who is suspected Eight people were killed, most of them women of Asian origin, in three spas in the Atlanta area will not appear in court on Thursday morning after his first appearance was canceled on multiple murder charges.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Georgia, has faced four murder charges related to shootings at two spas in northeast Atlanta, as well as four homicide charges and a number of assault charges related to shootings at the third Cherokee County spa.
According to authorities, Long opened fire at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth on Tuesday night, killing four people and injuring a fifth before traveling 30 miles to Atlanta and killing four other people at two spas, Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa. Long was arrested about 150 miles south of Atlanta. Police said Wednesday he was on his way to Florida and intended to conduct more shootings than spas there.
Police said Long told authorities that his actions were motivated by sexual complement, not race, and that he may have visited some of the spas where the shootings took place. “He tried to dispel that temptation,” said Jay Baker, Cherokee County sheriff.
But many experts and leading Asian American lawmakers say it is hard not to see racism inextricably linked to the killings due to a The latest wave of attacks against Asian Americans coincided with the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.
Visual timeline:What happened at the spa shoot in Atlanta?
Here’s what we know right now:
Seven women and one man were killed in the attacks, most of whom were of Asian descent.
In Cherokee County, the victims were Delaina Ashley Yuan, 33, of Acworth; Paul Andre Michels, 54, of Atlanta; Xiaojie Yan, 49, from Kennesaw; and Daoyou Feng, 44. A 30-year-old Spanish man was injured.
All four victims in the Atlanta shootings were Asian women, police said. The police had not released their names on Thursday morning. Meanwhile, the South Korean State Department said its diplomats in Atlanta had confirmed that four of the women were of Korean descent.
Yuan leaves behind a 13-year-old son and an 8-month-old daughter. His mother, Margaret Rushing, told WAGA-TV that her daughter and son-in-law went on a date at the spa. When the shooting occurred, Yaun’s husband locked himself in a room and was not injured, said Yuan’s half-sister Dana Toole.
“He’s taking it hard,” said Toole. “He was there. He heard the gunfire and everything. You can’t escape that when you’re in a room and gunshots go off – what are you doing?”
Paul Michels, who also died at the spa in Acworth, owned an alarm company in Atlanta, where he and his wife Bonnie lived for 26 years, his brother John said.
He believes his brother was “in the wrong place at the wrong time”. They grew up with nine siblings in Detriot, rode dirt bikes, spent summer weekends by a lake and got into mischief together, he said. Both served in the U.S. Army at the same time, and his brother served as an infantryman in the late 1980s.
“I’m the closest in age so we were basically like twins,” said 52-year-old John. “We did everything together when we were growing up.”
Even in mourning, John insisted on delivering a message to the alleged hunter: “Although this is a tragedy, I forgive this man and Jesus Christ too … I cannot hate him for it. I pray for his repentance.”
“It just worked really well”:Georgia killings leave an unforgettable mark on local businesses
Atlanta Police on Wednesday released audio from the 911 calls at both spas. On one of the calls, a woman at Gold Spa told the operator that a robbery was underway. She said a white man had a gun and she was hiding. During the second call, a woman said she was not at the Aromatherapy Spa but that her friend called her and hid in a back room after a man shot a woman.
Cherokee County Sheriff Jay Baker said a 9mm firearm was recovered from Long’s car. He bought a gun on Tuesday, the day of the attack, from Big Woods Goods, a sporting story in Cherokee County. Matt Kilgo, the deal’s attorney, said his clients “cooperate” fully with the police.
During an interview with Atlanta police, Cherokee County Sheriff’s MPs and FBI officials, Long said his actions were not racially motivated, Reynolds said.
“He apparently has a problem with what he sees as sex addiction and sees these places as something that allows him to go to these places and it’s a temptation for him that he wanted to get rid of,” Baker said.
Long was in rehab because of sex addiction and felt guilty about his sexual urges, according to two people who lived with him in temporary accommodation.
Baker said Long believed there was “some kind of porn industry” in Florida that he wanted to face, and he was on his way to the state when he was arrested.
Authorities said the only police report filed with the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office that mentioned Long was from 2019, when the then 19-year-old ran away with his girlfriend and was reported missing by his parents. “Your son sent you a text stating that he was not going back home and that he wanted a fresh start,” the report said.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Atlanta spas were not on the police radar: “As far as we know in Atlanta, these are legal businesses,” she said.
However, early signs suggest that the companies may not have been completely overboard, making the women working there particularly vulnerable to abuse and violence. All three spas are listed on an erotic reviews website where users can search for and review illegal massage parlors.
Aromatherapy Spa and Gold Spa have around 100 reviews, many of them recently. A review for Gold Spa on March 9th found it was a “full service,” as was a similar review five days earlier. A review for Aromatherapy Spa on March 2 also found that sex was on the service list. Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Georgia has 39 reviews, the last one posted in February.
One of the eight victims, Xiaojie Tan, was listed as the owner of a limited liability company in connection with Young’s Asian Massage. The LLC also owns Wang’s Feet & Body Massage, a spa in neighboring Kennesaw, which is also listed on the reviews page.
The ratings, coupled with the promotion of 24-hour services, are red flags, said Elizabeth Kim, chief operating officer of Restore NYC, a nonprofit committed to providing housing and economic solutions for trafficking survivors.
Local police said Wednesday it was too early to tell if the murders were taking place in the massage parlors were a hate crime. However, Yale University sociology chairwoman Grace Kao, an expert on Asian-American studies, said it was difficult to separate the race from the murders.
The shooter had targeted Asian American women and given that “Asian American women were viewed in the US mass media as exotic and feminine objects and suspected of prostitution due to the earliest US immigration restrictions,” the suspect could easily have Asian American women in the US you can see the same way, she said.
“If you speak to the average Asian American, most of us have been exposed to varying degrees of sexual harassment related to our gender and racial identity,” Kao said. “They do not exist separately in the lives of individuals.”
Georgia State Representative Bee Nguyen said the shootings appear to be at the “intersection of gender-based violence, misogyny and xenophobia.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, the first African American and South Asian American to be elected Vice President, described the incident as “tragic”.
“The investigation is still ongoing, we don’t know yet, we are not yet clear about the motive. But I would like to say to our Asian-American community that we stand with you and understand how this has terrified, shocked and outraged everyone People.”
Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif., Chairwoman of the Asia Pacific Caucus of Congress, said the “Crimes are beyond terrifying, but they only bring home so many Asian Americans that they are afraid of their lives and.” their circumstances “faced both the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in hate incidents.
She said her group of lawmakers had met with the Justice Department to discuss a nationwide increase in hate incidents and “we are currently determining action against AAPI hatred.” She called for laws to be passed to improve coverage of hate crimes and the establishment of a national holiday to speak out against anti-Asian American hatred on March 26th.
In addition, Cherokee County’s sheriff spokesman Baker was criticized on Wednesday after a Facebook page appeared to be his advertised a t-shirt with racist language about China and the coronavirus last year. Baker also checked to see if Long was having a “bad day” conducting the shootings.
Stop AAPI hatredA group tracking discrimination and xenophobia against Asian Americans and islanders in the Pacific found that there were around 3,800 cases of hatred, discrimination, or attack against Asian Americans from March 2020 to February 2021 can donate here for this purpose.
New Legislation to Combat Hate Crime to be introduced in both houses of Congress after President Joe Biden attacked the attacks.
Several GoFundMe fundraisers have been launched for the victims and the Asian-American community Hub for verifiable fundraising drives.
There are more options can help to be an allyThis includes reading up the history of anti-Asian racism and what to do if you see anti-Asian racism.
Featuring: Nicholas Wu, Cara Kelly, Christal Hayes, USA TODAY; The Associated Press