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Police in Georgia said Wednesday that the suspected Atlanta-area massage parlor shooter who allegedly killed several people Tuesday evening said he had a sex addiction, and targeted places he associated with "temptation."
Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Georgia, is accused of killing eight people and injuring one more at three different massage parlors in the Atlanta area starting around 5 p.m. Tuesday. Six of those killed were Asian, and all but one of the victims were women.
Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said at a press conference on Wednesday that when Long was apprehended in south Georgia on Tuesday night, he was on his way to Florida “to do similar acts in that state.”
“He sees them as an outlet for things he shouldn’t be doing, an issue with porn, and he was aiming to take out that temptation,” Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said.
“We believe that he frequented some of these places in the past,” Reynolds said.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms declined to comment on whether the three massage parlors targeted in Tuesday’s attack employed sex workers, saying that doing so would be “victim blaming.”
Police said that Long took responsibility for the shootings, but claimed in his conversations with the cops that the attacks weren’t racially motivated.
“It’s still early, but the indicators right now are that [the victims] may be targets of opportunity,” Reynolds said. “We believe he frequented these places in the past and may have been lashing out.”
Reynolds said that Long will be arraigned tomorrow in Cherokee County. He is currently being held at Cherokee County Adult Detention Center, where he’s been interviewed by Atlanta police and the FBI.
Long’s family got in touch with police early on, according to authorities, after the sheriff’s office put out an image of a possible suspect in the shootings. Police described the family as “very distraught” and “very helpful in this apprehension.”
A 9 mm firearm was found in Long’s vehicle when he was taken into custody, according to police.
Though Long allegedly said he did not specifically target Asian Americans, there have been nearly 3,800 reports of "hate incidents" against Asian Americans since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States last March, including more than 400 reports of physical assaults, the group Stop AAPI Hate said Tuesday
“There is still a lot unknown about this, but one thing is clear: The Asian American community already has been living with fear for the last year because of racism,” John C. Yang, the executive director of civil rights group Asian Americans Advancing Justice, tweeted Tuesday night. “These murders will intensify that fear.”