Eight people are dead in three separate shootings at spas across the Atlanta area in what some are already calling an act of white supremacy and domestic terrorism.
Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man from Woodstock, Georgia, has been apprehended as a suspect in the killings. They reportedly took place at Asian-owned businesses in the suburbs north of the city. Law enforcement officials stated that “several victims are Asian women”.
According to NBC News Correspondent Blayne Alexander, the first shooting took place roughly an hour north of downtown Atlanta at Young’s Asian Massage Parlor in Acworth, GA. Two additional shootings occurred roughly 45 minutes later in the northeastern part of the city. They occurred at spas across the street from one another.
The Associated Press reports that authorities took Long into custody after a significant manhunt roughly 150 miles south of Atlanta in Crisp County.
The attacks come amid a rapidly increasing series of violence directed at the Asian-American community. Reports of hate crimes against Asians have risen dramatically from coast to coast, intensifying further in the wake of racist rhetoric from former president Trump and some GOP leaders targeted primarily at China.
Political leaders in Trump’s camp have continued spewing racist untruths that attempt to pin blame for the pandemic on the Asian-American community. Even recently, local Tulsa officials have come under fire for using incendiary rhetoric to describe the virus.
Enhanced security at Asian-American businesses after shootings
In February, Vice President Kamala Harris, the nation’s first Black and Asian-American Vice President, spoke out against the rise in violence and racism, saying in a statement on Twitter:
“Hate crimes and violence against Asian Americans and Asian immigrants have skyrocketed during the pandemic. That’s why our Administration has taken actions to address these xenophobic attacks. We must continue to commit ourselves to combating racism and discrimination.”
While investigators work to determine a motive in the shooting, Atlanta law enforcement officials have indicated that enhanced security will be provided near Asian-American places of business. The New York Police Department announced they would be doing the same in New York City.
The FBI and other intelligence agencies have warned since the attack on Charlottesville that white supremacist domestic terrorism remains the greatest threat to the nation’s national security.