Atlanta mayor: Asian spa shootings ‘a crime against us all’

Source: Politico | March 17, 2021 | Nick Niedzwiadek

President Joe Biden is expected to address the tragedy publicly on Wednesday.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday condemned the attacks on three Atlanta-area spas that left eight people dead, including six Asian women.

“Whether it is senseless violence that we’ve seen play out in our streets, or more targeted violence like we saw yesterday, a crime against any community is a crime against us all,” Bottoms said at a news conference.

Law enforcement officials in Georgia Wednesday said the shootings do not appear to be racially motivated but stressed the investigation into the deadly shootings is ongoing. A 21-year-old male suspect in the shootings was taken into custody Tuesday night following a police chase.

Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County sheriff’s office said that the man claims to have a sex addiction and that the businesses were a “temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”

“It is still early on, but those were comments that he made,” Baker said, adding that investigators have not found a potential political or religious motivation for the attacks.

Authorities also said the alleged shooter said he was planning to leave the state when he was apprehended and may have gone after a business tied to “the porn industry” in Florida.

“For as tragic as this was on yesterday, it could have been worse,“ Bottoms said. “It is very likely that there would have been more victims on yesterday.”

The shootings Tuesday came amid heightened concern about a rise in hate crimes against people of Asian descent in recent months and immediately posed questions about why the particular businesses were targeted. At least one victim survived the attack but remains hospitalized.

The man, Robert Aaron Long, has been charged with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault in Cherokee County, part of the Atlanta metro area where one of the businesses was located. Additional charges are expected to follow related to the two shootings that occurred within the city.

Bottoms said that regardless of what fueled the violence, the fear and outrage it induced needs to be addressed.

“Whatever the motivation was for this guy, we know that many of the victims, [the] majority of the victims were Asian,” she said. “We also know that this is an issue that is happening across the country. It is unacceptable. It is hateful, and it has to stop.”

The Atlanta mayor said she has been in contact with the White House in the aftermath of the shootings, and the Biden administration said early Wednesday that the president had been briefed on the “horrific” situation.

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