Atlanta-area shootings leave 8 dead, many of Asian descent

Officials stand in front of a massage parlor after a shooting, Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Atlanta. Shootings at two massage parlors in Atlanta and one in the suburbs left multiple people dead, many of them women of Asian descent, authorities said. A 21-year-old man suspected in the shootings was taken into custody in southwest Georgia hours later after a manhunt, police said. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)Officials stand in front of a massage parlor after a shooting, Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Atlanta. Shootings at two massage parlors in Atlanta and one in the suburbs left multiple people dead, many of them women of Asian descent, authorities said. A 21-year-old man suspected in the shootings was taken into custody in southwest Georgia hours later after a manhunt, police said. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
A police officer watches as a body is taken from the Gold Spa massage parlor after a shooting, late Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Atlanta. Shootings at two massage parlors in Atlanta and one in the suburbs left multiple people dead, many of them women of Asian descent, authorities said. A 21-year-old man suspected in the shootings was taken into custody in southwest Georgia hours later after a manhunt, police said. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)A police officer watches as a body is taken from the Gold Spa massage parlor after a shooting, late Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Atlanta. Shootings at two massage parlors in Atlanta and one in the suburbs left multiple people dead, many of them women of Asian descent, authorities said. A 21-year-old man suspected in the shootings was taken into custody in southwest Georgia hours later after a manhunt, police said. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
A body is taken out of Gold Spa massage parlor after a shooting, late Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Atlanta. Shootings at two massage parlors in Atlanta and one in the suburbs left multiple people dead, many of them women of Asian descent, authorities said. A 21-year-old man suspected in the shootings was taken into custody in southwest Georgia hours later after a manhunt, police said. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)A body is taken out of Gold Spa massage parlor after a shooting, late Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Atlanta. Shootings at two massage parlors in Atlanta and one in the suburbs left multiple people dead, many of them women of Asian descent, authorities said. A 21-year-old man suspected in the shootings was taken into custody in southwest Georgia hours later after a manhunt, police said. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

A series of shootings over nearly an hour at three Atlanta-area massage parlours left eight people dead and raised fears that the attack was another hate crime against Asian Americans.

Police arrested a white 21-year-old Georgia man and said the motive for Tuesday night’s attacks wasn’t immediately known, though many of the victims were women of Asian descent.

“We’re in a place where we’ve seen an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans since the pandemic started,” said Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen. “It’s hard to think it is not targeted specifically toward our community.”

The attacks began Tuesday evening, when five people were shot at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor near Woodstock, about 30 miles (50 kilometres) north of Atlanta, Cherokee County Sheriff’s spokesman Capt. Jay Baker said. Two people died at the scene, and three were taken to a hospital where two died, Baker said.

About an hour later, police responding to a call about a robbery found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds at Gold Spa near Atlanta’s Buckhead area, where tattoo parlours and strip clubs are just blocks away from mansions and skyscrapers in one of the last ungentrified holdouts in that part of the city. Officers then learned of a call reporting shots fired across the street, at Aromatherapy Spa, and found another woman apparently shot dead.

“It appears that they may be Asian,” Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden has been briefed on the “horrific shootings” and would receive an update later Wednesday from Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Little is known about the suspect, Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, and authorities haven’t specified charges.

While the motive for the attack also remained unclear, many members of the Asian American community saw the shootings as an attack on them, given a recent wave of assaults that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States. The virus was first identified in China, and then-President Donald Trump and others have used racially charged terms like “Chinese virus” to describe it.

Over the past year, thousands of incidents of abuse have been reported to an anti-hate group that tracks incidents against Asian Americans, and hate crimes in general are at the highest level in more than a decade.

“We are heartbroken by these acts of violence,” Asian Americans Advancing Justice — Atlanta said in a statement. “While the details of the shootings are still emerging, the broader context cannot be ignored. The shootings happened under the trauma of increasing violence against Asian Americans nationwide, fueled by white supremacy and systemic racism.”

Police in Atlanta and other major cities deplored the killings, and some said they would increase patrols in Asian American communities. Seattle’s mayor said “the violence in Atlanta was an act of hate,” and San Francisco police tweeted #StopAsianHate. The New York City Police counterterrorism unit said it was on alert for similar attacks.

Other civil liberties groups and prominent Americans also expressed their dismay. The Rev. Bernice King, daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., said she’s “deeply saddened that we live in a nation and world permeated by hate and violence. I stand with Asian members of our World House, who are a part of our global human family.”

Former President Barack Obama regretted that “even as we’ve battled the pandemic, we’ve continued to neglect the longer-lasting epidemic of gun violence in America.” While acknowledging that the shooter’s motive was not known, he said “the identity of the victims underscores an alarming rise in anti-Asian violence that must end.”

Surveillance video recorded a man pulling up to the Cherokee County business about 10 minutes before the attack there, and the same car was spotted outside the Atlanta businesses, authorities said. A manhunt was launched, and Long was taken into custody in Crisp County, about 150 miles (240 kilometres) south of Atlanta, Baker said.

Video evidence “suggests it is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County’s, who is in custody,” Atlanta police said in a statement.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in statement Wednesday that its diplomats in Atlanta have confirmed with police that four of the victims who died were women of Korean descent. The ministry said its Consulate General in Atlanta is trying to confirm the nationality of the women.

FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said the agency is assisting Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities in the investigation.

Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock said in a video posted on Facebook that his deputies and state troopers were notified Tuesday night that a murder suspect out of north Georgia was headed their way. Deputies and troopers set up along the interstate and “made contact with the suspect,” he said.

A state trooper performed a PIT (pursuit intervention technique) manoeuvre “which caused the vehicle to spin out of control,” Hancock said. Long was then taken into custody “without incident.”

Crisp County sheriff’s spokeswoman Haley Wade said Wednesday morning that Long, who is white, is no longer in their custody and that her office has turned over its information to the other Georgia agencies and the FBI.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is in South Korea meeting with Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, mentioned the killings during an opening statement.

“We are horrified by this violence which has no place in America or anywhere,” he said.

“Our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence,” Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday evening on Twitter.

___

Associated Press writers Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to the this story.

Kate Brumback, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

ShootingUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
105 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Just over 8,000 new vaccine doses administered in the region for a total of 158,000 to date

Last year’s flood season stretched from April through early July, as this picture of flooding at Cache Creek park on July 4, 2020 shows. With area snowpacks at slightly above normal, temperatures and rainfall will play a role in determining what this year’s flood season looks like. (Photo credit: Tom Moe)
Snowpacks in area slightly higher than normal as freshet starts

Temperatures and rainfall are critical flood risk factors in coming weeks

The Clinton Annual Ball went ahead in 2020, albeit in a different format and with far fewer guests than usual. (Photo credit: Clinton Annual Ball committee)
Clinton Annual Ball postponed again in 2021, but still carries on

Thanks to some creativity, ball is still the longest continually-held event of its kind in Canada

The 2020 financial statements for Cache Creek show that the village needs to look at either increasing revenues or cutting services in order to maintain a balanced budget. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Cache Creek council advised to increase revenues or cut services

Presentation also shows that continued use of Landfill Legacy Fund for operations is unsustainable

A group of outdoor enthusiasts and heritage buffs learning more about the history of the iconic 1926 Alexandra Bridge during a pre-COVID-19 tour. (Photo credit: Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning)
A group of outdoor enthusiasts and heritage buffs learning more about the history of the iconic 1926 Alexandra Bridge during a pre-COVID-19 tour. (Photo credit: Hope Mountain Centre for Outdoor Learning)
Major grant will help refurbish historic Alexandra Bridge near Spuzzum

The 1926 bridge, which last saw vehicle traffic in 1964, is major attraction on Fraser Canyon drive

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply on 5th anniversary of overdose emergency declaration

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

Richmond RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng said, in March, the force received a stand-out number of seven reports of incidents that appeared to have “racial undertones.” (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
‘Racially motivated’ incidents on the rise in B.C’s 4th largest city: police

Three incidents in Richmond are currently being invested as hate crimes, says RCMP Chief Superintendent Will Ng

Commercial trucks head south towards the Pacific Highway border crossing Wednesday (April 14, 2021). The union representing Canadian border officers wants its members to be included on the frontline priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine. (Aaron Hinks photo)
CBSA officers’ union calls for vaccine priority in B.C.

Border officers at ports including, YVR and land crossings should ‘not be left behind’

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

A screenshot from a Nuu-chah-nulth healing song and performance created in collaboration between Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso. (Screenshot from YouTube)
VIDEO: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation brothers produce COVID-19 healing song

Hjalmer Wenstob and Timmy Masso share dance and inspiration.

Most Read