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8 People, Many Of Them Asian, Shot Dead At Atlanta-Area Spas; Man Arrested

Eight people were killed in shootings at three different spas in Georgia on March 16 and a 21-year-old male suspect was in custody, police and local media reported.
Elijah Nouvelage
AFP via Getty Images
Eight people were killed in shootings at three different spas in Georgia on March 16 and a 21-year-old male suspect was in custody, police and local media reported.

Updated March 17, 2021 at 2:37 AM ET

At least eight people were killed and several others injured in a series of shootings at three spas in the Atlanta metro region Tuesday. A suspect has been taken into custody in connection with all three shootings, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office announced that Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man from Woodstock, Ga., was arrested at about 8:30 p.m. local time following a chase that led officers into Crisp County — about three hours away from where the first shootings at a spa occurred, according to police who spoke during a brief press conference. Long was transported to the Crisp County Detention Center, police said.

The photo released by the sheriff's office of a person of interest in massage parlor shootings in Cherokee County, Ga. Four women were killed at a massage parlor in Cherokee County, and four more women at two other businesses in the city of Atlanta Tuesday.
/ Courtesy of Cherokee County Sheriff's Office via AP
Courtesy of Cherokee County Sheriff's Office via AP
The sheriff's office named Robert Aaron Long as a suspect in the shootings in Georgia.

Records searches into Long's background do not show any prior criminal history.

The FBI is assisting Cherokee County and Atlanta police in this investigation, Kevin Rowson, a spokesman for the FBI's Atlanta office, told NPR.

Jay Baker with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office said when officers arrived at Young's Asian Massage, two victims were already dead and another three were still alive, local news station 11Alive reported. The wounded were rushed to a local hospital, but two have since died. One of the victims was a man, as is a survivor, officials said.

The names of the four people killed at Young's Asian Massage, as well as that of the person who was injured, have not been released by authorities.

About an hour after that shooting, Atlanta police officers were called to respond to a robbery in progress at Gold Spa. Once there, they discovered the bodies of three women who had been fatally shot. Moments later, officers were called to another shooting across the street at a different spa — Aromatherapy Spa — where one more woman was found dead of a gunshot wound.

Authorities said many of the victims appeared to be women of Asian descent. None of the names of the injured or deceased have been publicly released.

Police have not explained what the motive might be, but the killings come as violence against Asian Americans has spiked during the coronavirus pandemic.

Stop AAPI Hate tracks reports of violence against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Since March 19, 2020, around the start of the pandemic, until Feb. 28 of this year, the organization learned of 3,795 "hate incidents" against the Asian American community, according to a report the organization released Tuesday.

It said that number represents a fraction of the true number of hate crimes committed against the community. They range from verbal harassment and shunning to more extreme acts of physical attacks.

Following reports of the shootings in Atlanta, police in New York and Seattle said they are boosting the law enforcement presence in Asian American communities.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an Atlanta-based legal advocacy nonprofit, said late Tuesday that the organization is "shaken by the violence in our city."

This is a breaking news story. Some things reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: March 15, 2021 at 11:00 PM CDT
A previous version of this story said all of the people killed were women. In fact, one of those killed in Cherokee County was a man.
Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.
Jaclyn Diaz is a reporter on Newshub.