Atlanta shooting leaves eight dead: what happened?
Six women of Asian descent, and two others, were shot dead late on Tuesday in multiple attacks on Atlanta-area day spas. Police have arrested one suspect.
Atlanta, Georgia, was the latest city in the United States to witness a horrific gun attack, as eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, were shot dead on Tuesday night. The incidents took place in and around various day spas and the police later announced that they had arrested a man suspected of carrying out all of the shootings.
Atlanta shooting leaves eight dead
Although authorities declined to offer a possible motive for the violence, the attacks prompted the New York Police Department’s counter-terrorism unit to announce the deployment of additional patrols in Asian communities there as a precaution.
The bloodshed in Georgia began about 5 p.m. local time when four people were killed and another was wounded in a shooting at Young’s Asian Massage in Cherokee County, about 40 miles north of Atlanta, said Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department.
Young’s Asian Massage – Acworth GA— Dianne Gallagher (@DianneG) March 17, 2021
• 4 dead
•1 injured at hospital
•Police have not given race, gender of victims
•Sheriff says suspect in custody
Atlanta Police Investigating:
Gold Massage Spa
•3 dead, Asian Females
Aroma Therapy Spa
•1 dead Asian Female
Two women of Asian descent were among the dead there, along with a white woman and a white man, Baker said, adding that the surviving victim was a Hispanic man.
In Atlanta, the state capital, police officers responding to a call of a “robbery in progress” shortly before 6 p.m. arrived at the Gold Spa beauty salon and found three women shot to death, Police Chief Rodney Bryant told reporters.
While investigating the initial shooting report, the officers were called to a separate aroma-therapy spa across the street where a fourth woman was found dead of a gunshot wound, Bryant said. All four victims slain in Atlanta were of Asian descent.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock in Cherokee County, was taken into custody at about 8:30 p.m. in Crisp County, about 150 miles (240 km) south of Atlanta. A photo of Long, who is white, was released by authorities.
Confidence in single-shooter arrest
Baker told Reuters by telephone that investigators were “very confident” that the same suspect was the gunman in all three shootings. A separate statement from the Atlanta Police Department said the suspect was connected to all the attacks by video evidence from the crime scenes. Investigators were still working “to confirm with certainty” that the shootings in Atlanta and Cherokee County were related.
Long was spotted in southern Georgia, far from the crime scenes, after police in Cherokee County issued a bulletin providing a description and license plates of the vehicle involved in the attacks, Baker said.
Statement from Atlanta Police says, in part, “... is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County's, who is in custody.”— Dianne Gallagher (@DianneG) March 17, 2021
Full statement: pic.twitter.com/qpK01NwSnc
He was arrested without incident after a highway pursuit by Georgia state police and Crisp County Sheriff’s deputies, who used a tactical driving maneuver to stop the suspect’s vehicle, sheriff’s officials said later.
Motive unclear amid hate crime surge
Authorities said that a motive for the rampage was not immediately clear, and that it was not determined whether the victims were targeted because of their race or ethnicity.
But the NYPD’s counter-terrorism branch said on Twitter late Tuesday that although there was no known connection to New York City, the department “will be deploying assets to our great Asian communities across the city out of an abundance of caution.”
The violence in Georgia unfolded days after US President Joe Biden used a nationally televised speech to condemn a recent surge in hate crimes and discrimination against Asian-Americans. Civil rights groups have suggested that former President Donald Trump contributed to the trend by repeatedly referring to the coronavirus as the “China virus” because it first emerged there.
A spokesman for the Atlanta field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said the agency was assisting police in Cherokee County and Atlanta.
Atlanta police said they were stepping up patrols around businesses similar to those attacked on Tuesday evening.
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