Eight people were shot to death at three massage parlors in the Atlanta area on Tuesday evening, authorities said, raising fears that the crimes may have targeted people of Asian descent, reports the New York Times. Six of the people killed were Asian, and two were white, according to law enforcement officials. All but one were women. A suspect, identified as Robert Aaron Long, 21, a white man of Woodstock, Ga., was captured in Crisp County, about 150 miles south of Atlanta, after a manhunt, said the authorities, who had earlier released a surveillance image of a suspect near a Hyundai Tucson outside one of the massage parlors. The Atlanta police initially characterized the shooting at one of the parlors in the city as a robbery in progress.
The police reported on Wednesday that Long claimed he had a “sexual addiction” and saw the spas as “a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” according to a New York Times update. Despite his claims about his motivations, police caution that it’s too early in the investigation to be sure that there wasn’t a racial motivation. There have been nearly 3,800 reports of hate incidents targeting Asian-Americans nationwide since last March, according to Stop AAPI Hate, a non-profit organization formed to prevent anti-Asian discrimination during the coronavirus pandemic. In response to the attack, both the Seattle police department and the NYPD promised to increase patrols and outreach to support and protect their Asian-American communities.