8 people killed in Atlanta Spa shooting

On Tuesday night, six Asian women were killed in a series of horrific shootings targeting massage parlors and spas in and around Atlanta. Over the past year, nearly 3,800 anti-Asian racist incidents have occurred across the U.S., according to new research released by reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate.

The attacks began around 5 p.m., when five people were shot at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor in a strip mall near a rural area in Acworth, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Atlanta, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Jay Baker said. Two people died at the scene and three were transported to a hospital where two of them also died, Baker said.

Around 5:50 p.m., police in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, responding to a call of a robbery in progress, found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds at Gold Spa. While they were at that scene, they learned of a call reporting shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, and found a woman who appeared to have been shot dead inside the business.

The killings came amid a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States.

The man named Robert Aaron Long charged with killing eight people at three Atlanta-area massage parlors on Tuesday evening had been a customer of at least two of the spas, the police said.

Atlanta police said the suspect told them that his actions were not racially motivated — even though the shooter targeted businesses known for employing Asians, and six victims were Asian women. The suspect said he had a “sex addiction,” according to police, and wanted to eliminate temptation, which sounded to many women as if their sexuality was somehow to blame.

The gunman’s intent seemed crystal clear to Asians living in Atlanta and across the nation who have long had to confront stereotyping, hateful harassment and even violence — and who say things have gotten even worse amid the coronavirus pandemic.