At least eight people were killed in the Atlanta metropolitan area across shootings at three separate spas, according to police.
One suspect in the killing of at least four people and injuring of another at the Young's Asian Massage Parlor, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, was taken into custody by authorities in Crisp County, a local FOX affiliate reported.
Authorities said late Tuesday night Long is a suspect in all three spa shootings.
"Video footage from our Video Integration Center places the Cherokee County suspect's vehicle in the area, around the time of our Piedmont Road shootings," the Atlanta Police Department said in a news release. "That, along with video evidence viewed by investigators, suggests it is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County's, who is in custody. Because of this, an investigator from APD is in Cherokee County and we are working closely with them to confirm with certainty our cases are related."
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The Cherokee Sheriff's Office posted to social media Tuesday evening, alerting the public of the suspect who was seen in several surveillance footage clips following the shooting at around 4:50 p.m. local time. Of those who lost their lives, six were Asian women, a white woman, and a white man, according to the New York Times. The injured victim was a Hispanic man, and officials did not comment on his condition. They were all shot inside the spa business.
“The President has been briefed overnight about the horrific shootings in Atlanta. White House officials have been in touch with the Mayor’s office and will remain in touch with the FBI," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Wednesday morning.
Later on, the police reported shootings at two spas just south of Interstate 85. Three were killed at a business called Gold Spa, and one was killed at Aroma Therapy Spa across the street.
In a video posted to the Crisp County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page, Sheriff Frank Reynolds announced that the agency and highway patrol were alerted that Long was headed to their county.
Georgia state patrol troopers performed a “PIT maneuver" around 8:00 p.m., which caused Long’s vehicle to “spin out of control.” Reynolds added that he was taken into custody “without incident.”
BREAKING NEWS: 21-year-old Robert Long, the accused gunman in today's Cherokee County spa shooting, was just captured in Crisp County, Georgia. We're working to get more information about his arrest. LIVE updates on WSB Tonight at 11 p.m. LATEST >> https://t.co/36djqKNlHz pic.twitter.com/wscOX4rcgf— WSB-TV (@wsbtv) March 17, 2021
Police said the victims from the spas near Interstate 85 were all Asian.
Following the shootings, the shopping center near the spas was closed to the public for investigation. The highway was also temporarily stopped in both directions to leave room for emergency vehicles.
The Washington Examiner reached out to the Cherokee Police Department but did not immediately receive a response.
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Police have not speculated publicly about the perpetrator's motives, but there has been an increase in hate crimes against the Asian American community since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
A study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found that hate crimes against Asian Americans spiked 150% throughout 2020, a year largely upended by the coronavirus pandemic, that is speculated to have fueled some of the rise in violence after the virus was first discovered in China in late 2019. The study found that between 2019 and 2020, crimes targeting Asian Americans went up 114% in Los Angeles and 833% in New York City.