Eight people are reportedly dead and at least one other wounded after three shootings at Atlanta-area spas.
Six of the eight victims were Asian, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times reported, citing unnamed officials. The spas advertised their largely Asian staff. All but one of the eight victims were women, the Times reported.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Georgia, was taken into custody Tuesday night. Based on video evidence, authorities said they believe he was responsible for all three shootings. The arrest took place roughly three hours away from the initial scene after a car chase, according to WSB-TV Atlanta.
At around 5:47 p.m. on Tuesday, police responded to reports of a robbery at Gold Spa in northeast Atlanta, a spokesperson for the Atlanta Police Department told BuzzFeed News.
When the officers arrived, they found three women dead inside the parlor of gunshot wounds.
The officers then received a call of another shooting across the street at Aromatherapy Spa, where they found one woman dead.
Four more people were killed earlier in the day, and at least one other injured, at another spa in nearby Cherokee County, according to the Associated Press.
Long was captured several hours later as the suspect in the Cherokee County shooting, the Journal-Constitution reported. The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.
The Cherokee County Sheriff released images of Long and his car that were seen on surveillance footage prior to his arrest.
By late Tuesday night, officials said they believed he was responsible for all three shootings. A review of video footage showed Long’s car was in the area of Gold Spa around the time of the shooting there, an Atlanta police spokesperson said. Based on other video evidence, it’s “extremely likely” Long was the shooter at the Atlanta spas as well as the one in Cherokee County, the spokesperson said, and the two agencies are working together to confirm the connection.
Atlanta police were also dispatched to other spas and patrols have been increased as a precaution, the spokesperson said.
The shootings come as anti-Asian hate crimes have seen a stunning uptick in the US throughout the past year of the pandemic.
According to a report from Stop AAPI Hate that was released earlier in the day Tuesday, there have been at least 3,795 reported hate incidents targeting Asian Americans in just the past year alone. Asian American women reported attacks at more than twice the rate of men.
References to the establishments where eight people were killed have been changed from “massage parlors” to “spas.”