DeKalb, IL — A 21-year-old white man accused of shooting eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, at three Atlanta-area massage parlors was charged with murder Wednesday.
Robert Aaron Long, who was captured in surveillance images, told police it was not a racially motivated attack, but is claiming he has a "sex addiction." The Tuesday killings sent shockwaves through the Asian American community that's increasingly been targeted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Four people died in the first shooting, at Young’s Asian Massage near Acworth, a northwest suburb of Atlanta just before 5 p.m. Police later responded to a robbery at 5:47 p.m. at Gold Spa where they found three women dead from gunshot wounds, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. While investigating, officers were called across the street to another shooting at Aromatherapy Spa, where they found another woman dead.
Authorities identified Delania Ashley Yaun, 33, Xiaojie Yan, 49, Daoyou Feng, 44, and Paul Andre Michels, 54, as those who died at Young’s Massage. Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, was also injured at Young’s Massage.
Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen said the incident appears to be at the "intersection of gender-based violence, misogyny and xenophobia."
Stop AAPI Hate released a report Tuesday that found nearly 3,800 instances of discrimination against Asians in the past year. The number could be higher because not all incidents are reported, the report states.
The organization was created in March 2020 and tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.