A string of shootings at three Atlanta-area businesses Tuesday evening left eight dead; six of the shooting victims were Asian women, raising fears that the killings were racially motivated. Police arrested a 21-year-old white man, Robert Aaron Long, 150 miles south of Atlanta Tuesday night and charged him with murder. Police say that video surveillance of each crime scene appears to link Long to each of the shootings.
The timeline of the killings spans just over an hour, starting when Long arrived just before 5 p.m. at Young’s Asian Massage near Acworth, a northwest Atlanta suburb, 5 miles from the suspect’s home in Woodstock. Security footage showed a man wearing a navy-and-red hoodie walk into the parlor, where shots were fired. Four people were killed during the shooting at the parlor—two Asian women, a white woman, and a white man. A Hispanic man, who was leaving a nearby business at the time, was also reportedly injured in the shooting.
Roughly 45 minutes later, at 5:47 p.m., police responded to what was called in as a robbery at another spa along busy Piedmont Road in the northeast of Atlanta.* When police arrived at Gold Spa, which is 30 miles or about a 45-minute rush-hour drive from the first parlor shooting, they discovered the bodies of three Asian women, each with gunshot wounds. Shortly after, while officers were on scene investigating, shots were fired across the street at Aromatherapy Spa. When police arrived on the scene, the body of another Asian woman was discovered. Long was established as the suspect in the initial shooting and apprehended several hours later.
During the pandemic, there has been a worrying spike in abuse of and crimes committed against people of Asian descent. The exact motivation of Tuesday’s shooting is not yet confirmed, but the indicators are not good. Other cities, like Seattle and New York, deployed additional law enforcement to areas with Asian communities as a protective measure. An official from the South Korean Consulate in Atlanta told the New York Times Wednesday that four of those killed in the shooting were ethnic Koreans.
“The reported shootings of Asian American women on Tuesday in Atlanta is an unspeakable tragedy—for the families of the victims first and foremost, but also for the AAPI community—which has been reeling from high levels of racial discrimination,” the group Stop AAPI Hate, which tracks attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, tweeted Tuesday. “Few details have been released, including whether or not the shootings were related or motivated by hate. But right now there is a great deal of fear and pain in the Asian American community that must be addressed.”
Correction, March 17, 2021: This post originally misidentified Piedmont Road as Piedmont Avenue.