Robert Long is 21 years old, and the authorities are investigating the possible racial motivation in the eight murders: six of the victims are women of Asian origin.
It is ‘extremely likely’ that the same suspect was involved in all three deadly massage parlor shootings in the US state of Georgia, police said on Tuesday. The suspect, named Robert Aaron Long, 21, is in police custody in the violence that killed eight people, most of them are Asian women.
Video evidence from the shootings at the three spas in the Atlanta area “suggests that our suspect is most likely the same,” an Atlanta police spokesman said, adding that investigators are working closely “to confirm with certainty that our cases are related”.
At the moment, little is known about Long. US media reported that his family lives in a one-story, three-bedroom house in Woodstock, a middle-class, mostly white suburb about 30 miles north of downtown Atlanta.
“They seem like a good Christian family,” Mary Morgan, 88, who lives across the street, told The Washington Post. “They used to go to church regularly, and I’ve never seen anything wrong with them.”
According to a statement from the Georgia Department of Safety posted on Facebook, long, who was driving a black 2007 Hyundai Tucson, was arrested after a “brief chase” about 150 miles from Atlanta. A state trooper performed a pursuit intervention maneuver, “which caused the vehicle to spin out of control,” said Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock.
Robert Long was taken into custody “without incident” and was being held at the Crisp County Jail for Cherokee County authorities, who were expected to arrive soon to continue their investigation.
At the moment, it is unknown if the shootings have a racist motive, although some media point out that there may have been a racial motivation in the murders since six of the victims are women of Asian origin.
The first shooting occurred shortly before 5 p.m. local time at a salon known as Young’s Asian Massage Parlor, located near Acworth, a suburb of Atlanta, in Cherokke County.
Four people were killed in that first attack, and a fifth was injured. The dead are three women, two of them Asian and a man.
Shortly after, around 5:45 p.m. local time, four other people were killed in attacks on two rooms located on the same block in the city of Atlanta, allegedly carried out by Robert Long.
In the first (Gold Spa), three women died and another woman in the last (Aromatherapy Spa). According to the Atlanta Police, these four murdered women were of Asian descent.
Long was caught on surveillance video arriving at the Acworth massage centre around 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, minutes before the attack, authorities said.
Police said video footage showed the suspect’s vehicle in the Atlanta spa area also at the time of those attacks. That, as well as other video evidence, “suggests that our suspect is most likely the same,” Atlanta police said in a statement.
The NGO Stop AAPI Hate, dedicated to preventing Asian discrimination during the coronavirus pandemic, called the event “an unspeakable tragedy” for the Asian-American community, which has suffered a large number of racist attacks in recent months.
According to the NGO, there have been almost 3,800 reports of hate incidents targeting Asian-Americans across the country since last March, after the pandemic was declared. The organization also said Tuesday’s shootings “will only exacerbate the fear and pain that the Asian-American community continues to endure.”