[guest post by Dana]
Federal agents on Wednesday joined the investigations into shootings at three Atlanta-area spas that left eight people dead Tuesday evening.
The attacks began around 5 p.m., when four people were killed in Acworth, a suburb north of Atlanta, authorities said. Less than an hour later, four women were killed in two shootings in Atlanta. The victims in Atlanta appeared to be Asian women, as were two of the victims in Acworth, officials said.
Authorities arrested a suspect, Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, after a brief manhunt, Cherokee County sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker said. Investigators were working to confirm that the shootings were related.
The suspect, who was charged with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault in Cherokee County, confessed to the crime and told law enforcement that he had issues with pornography and wanted to remove the temptation:
We are still early in this investigation so we can not make that determination at this moment,” said Atlanta police Chief Rodney Bryant.
Baker said Wednesday that the suspect likely acted alone.
“These locations, he sees them as an outlet for him, something he shouldn’t be doing,” he said, adding that Long indicated he had an “issue with porn” and was “attempting to take out that temptation.”
“He was fed up, at the end of his rope,” Baker said. “He had a bad day, and this is what he did.”
It remains unclear whether the attacks were racially motivated:
At a news conference, a law enforcement official says early indications are that Atlanta-area mass shooter Robert Aaron Long may have been motivated by issues stemming from "sexual addiction," not racism — but he cautions that the investigation is in an early stage pic.twitter.com/jCyDGyZxQ7
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 17, 2021
According to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, the suspect was on his way to Florida to carry out more shootings when he was arrested.
Prayers for the families of the victims at this horrible time.
UPDATE: Police have announced that the suspect is being charged with eight counts of murder.
UPDATE 2: More info:
Long spent time in rehabilitation for sexual addiction last year, a former roommate told CNN Wednesday.
The roommate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he lived with Long for several months in summer 2020 at a transition house for people exiting rehab. He declined to identify the transition house or say which state it was in…
“It was something that absolutely would torture him,” Bayless said. He said Long was a “deeply religious person — he would often go on tangents about his interpretation of the Bible,” and was distraught about his addiction to sex.
Bayless said that on multiple occasions during his stay at the facility, Long told him that he had “relapsed” and “gone to massage parlors explicitly to engage in sex acts.”
Additionally, the suspect’s gun was legally purchased:
Long had a 9 mm firearm in his car when he was arrested, Baker said.
Long purchased his gun legally at a local gun store, Big Woods Goods in Holly Springs, Georgia, an attorney for the company confirmed to CNN.
In a brief statement to CNN, Matt Kilgo said the company is fully cooperating with law enforcement and there is no indication that there was anything improper with the transfer on Tuesday.
And about the Georgia’s sheriff’s spokesperson who said that the suspect “had a bad day”:
A Facebook page appearing to belong to a Georgia sheriff’s office spokesman who is helping to investigate the recent massage parlor slayings promoted a T-shirt with racist language about China and the coronavirus last year.
“Place your order while they last,” the March 2020 Facebook post said, along with a smiley face emoji.
…Asian American activists said Baker’s comments and the Facebook post undermine public confidence that investigators are adequately addressing Tuesday’s atrocity.