#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 18°C Monday 21 June 2021
Advertisement

Eight killed in shootings at Atlanta massage parlours

A man was taken into custody after a “brief pursuit” about 240 kilometres from Atlanta, police said.

Image: Mike Stewart/PA

US PRESIDENT JOE Biden has expressed his solidarity with the Asian-American community after a fatal shooting in the state of Georgia last night.

Eight people, six of whom were Asian women, were killed in shootings at three different spas, with a 21-year-old man in custody on suspicion of staging all three attacks, police said.

Although the gunman has denied the shootings were racially motivated, the incident with many Asian-Americans already on edge following a recent spike in hate crimes against the community and triggered immediate fears that Asian-run businesses may have been deliberately targeted.

Authorities, however, stressed they had not determined the motive of the shooter, identified as Robert Aaron Long, a white man who is believed to have acted alone.

“The suspect did take responsibility for the shootings,” Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office told a news conference.

“This is still early, but he does claim it was not racially motivated,” the officer added. 

“He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as… a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”

“The investigation is ongoing and the question of motivation is still to be determined,” President Biden said at the outset of his virtual meeting with Taoiseach Micheál Martin for St Patrick’s Day this evening.

“But whatever the motivation here, I know Asian Americans are very concerned, because as you know I have been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans, and it’s troubling.”

Martin expressed his condolences for the tragedy.

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.

Earlier today, Captain Baker told the paper the victims were two Asian women, a white woman, and a white man, while a Hispanic man was wounded.

The Atlanta police department separately confirmed that four women were found dead at two business establishments in northeast Atlanta, identified as the Gold Massage Spa and Aroma Therapy spa.

Police told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that all four Atlanta victims were Asian women.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported the country’s foreign ministry had confirmed that four of the victims were of Korean descent.

massage-parlor-shooting Source: Brynn Anderson

Authorities have identified Robert Aaron Long as a suspect in all three shootings.

Based on the pattern of surveillance video from the shooting scenes, Atlanta police spokesman Sergeant John Chafee told AFP: “It is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County’s, who is in custody.”

“We are working closely with them to confirm with certainty our cases are related,” he added.

Long was taken into custody after a “brief pursuit” about 240 kilometres from Atlanta, according to a statement by the Georgia Department of Safety on Facebook.

Describing the scene in northeast Atlanta, the city police department said: “Upon arrival, officers located three females deceased inside the location from apparent gunshot wounds.”

While on the scene, officers were advised of shots fired across the street, where they found a fourth female victim.

Adriana Mejia, niece of one of the victims, said the family was “devastated” after her uncle was shot and that they were praying for his recovery.

“We never know when we’re at the wrong place at the wrong time because this was so all of a sudden,” she said.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was assisting in the investigation, a spokesman told AFP.

news-gaorgia-shootings Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

 ‘Marginalized minorities’ 

The shootings come as reports of attacks against Asian-Americans, primarily elders, have spiked in recent months – fueled during the Covid-19 pandemic, activists believe, by talk of the ‘Chinese virus’ by former president Donald Trump and others.

News of the shootings came just hours after the release of a report by the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate suggested a marked increase in hate crimes against Asia-Americans – with women disproportionately affected.

In a tally of incidents reported to the group between March 2020 and February this year, almost 70% of Asian-American survey respondents said they had faced verbal harassment and just over one in 10 said they had experienced physical assault.

While racial motivation can be hard to establish, a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at CSU San Bernardino also found that reported anti-Asian hate crimes nearly tripled across 16 major US cities including New York and Los Angeles – even as overall hate crime fell seven percent.

Georgia is home to nearly 500,000 Asian residents, or just over four per cent of its population, according to the Asian American Advocacy Fund.

The Democratic party in Georgia called yesterday’s shooting spree “horrifying.”

“As details continue to emerge, this attack sadly follows the unacceptable pattern of violence against Asian Americans that has skyrocketed throughout this pandemic,” said Congresswoman Nikema Williams, who is also the state party’s chairwoman.

In an address to the nation last Thursday, President Joe Biden forcefully condemned what he called “vicious hate crimes against Asian-Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated.”

“It’s wrong. It’s un-American. And it must stop,” he said.

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS (66)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel