ATLANTA, Georgia – Eight people — the majority believed to be women of Asian descent were killed in shootings at three different spas within the US state of Georgia Tuesday and a 21-year-old man was in custody on suspicion of staging all three attacks, police said.
The shootings came with many Asian-Americans already jittery following a recent spike in hate crimes against the community — and triggered immediate fears that Asian-run businesses may are deliberately targeted.
Four of the victims were killed at Young’s Asian Massage near Acworth, a suburb of Georgia’s capital city Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, citing the Cherokee County sheriff’s office.
Captain Jay Baker of the sheriff’s office told the newspaper that the victims were two Asian women, a woman, and a person, while a Hispanic man was wounded.
The Atlanta department of local government separately confirmed that four women were found dead at two business establishments in northeast Atlanta, identified by media because of the Gold Massage Spa, and Aroma Therapy spa.
Police told that every one in four victims in Atlanta also appeared to be Asian.
Authorities have identified Robert Aaron Long as a suspect altogether three shootings.
Based on the pattern of surveillance video from the shooting scenes, Atlanta police spokesman Sgt. John Chafee told AFP: “It is extremely likely our suspect is that an equivalent as Cherokee County’s, who is in custody.”
Long was taken into custody about 150 miles (240 kilometers) from Atlanta after being caught on surveillance footage, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“At now, investigators are gathering information from both scenes to figure out exactly what occurred and attempting to urge confirmed information regarding the suspect or suspects,” said the Atlanta department of local government during a press release.
Describing the scene in northeast Atlanta, they said: “Upon arrival, officers located three females deceased inside things from apparent gunshot wounds.”
While on the scene, officers were advised of shots fired across the road, where they found the fourth victim.
It said it had been too early to verify whether the shooting in Atlanta and Cherokee County were linked but that they were “looking into that possibility.”
“Today’s tragic killings in #Atlanta reaffirm the need for us to accentuate and protect ALL of America’s marginalized minorities from racism,” tweeted Ben Crump, a lawyer known for representing several high-profile Black victims of police brutality within the US in recent years.