God-fearing gunman, 21, targeted three massage parlors because he blamed them for his sex addiction

The God-fearing gunman who killed eight people at three Georgia massage parlors on Tuesday targeted the locations because he’d visited them before and blamed them for his sex addiction, cops revealed on Wednesday morning. 

Robert Aaron Long, 21, shot dead eight people including six Asian women at three parlors – one in Acworth and two in Atlanta – on Tuesday. He then went on the run and was driving to Florida to target more locations when he was arrested 150 miles south of Atlanta. Police rammed his Hyundai off the road to take him into custody. 

On Wednesday, police said that contrary to initial reports, the attacks were not racially motivated but that after confessing to the killing, Long revealed he was addicted to sex and porn wanted to remove the ‘temptation’ of the parlors. 

They say he saw them as an ‘outlet’ for his sex addiction but they wouldn’t clarify if he had ever engaged in sex acts with any of the staff there.  

The gunman bought his 9mm handgun hours before the rampage. He was on his way to Florida to carry out more attacks when he was caught. The Florida locations were somehow connected to pornography, police said on Wednesday without revealing more details.  

‘He claims that it was not racially motivated… he has an issue that he considers a sex addiction and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places… it’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.

‘He was at the end of his rope and yesterday was a very bad day for him,’ Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office said.  

Four of the eight victims have now been named as; Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Yan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44. Elcias R Hernandez-Ortiz was injured but survived. 

Robert Aaron Long, 21, told police that he has a sex addiction and viewed the parlors as an 'outlet' and 'temptation' that he wanted to remove. He confessed to the killings after police rammed his car off the road at 8pm on Tuesday night. He was on his way to Florida to carry out more attacks

Robert Aaron Long, 21, told police that he has a sex addiction and viewed the parlors as an 'outlet' and 'temptation' that he wanted to remove. He confessed to the killings after police rammed his car off the road at 8pm on Tuesday night. He was on his way to Florida to carry out more attacks

Robert Aaron Long, 21, told police that he has a sex addiction and viewed the parlors as an 'outlet' and 'temptation' that he wanted to remove. He confessed to the killings after police rammed his car off the road at 8pm on Tuesday night. He was on his way to Florida to carry out more attacks

Robert Aaron Long, 21, told police that he has a sex addiction and viewed the parlors as an 'outlet' and 'temptation' that he wanted to remove. He confessed to the killings after police rammed his car off the road at 8pm on Tuesday night. He was on his way to Florida to carry out more attacks

Robert Aaron Long, 21, told police that he has a sex addiction and viewed the parlors as an ‘outlet’ and ‘temptation’ that he wanted to remove.  He confessed to the killings after police rammed his car off the road at 8pm on Tuesday night. He was on his way to Florida to carry out more attacks

Three shootings at spas and massage parlors around Atlanta left eight people dead and police on the hunt for those responsible

People with the medical examiner's office wheel out a body on a stretcher from the Gold Spa massage parlor where three people were shot and killed on Tuesday in Atlanta, Georgia

People with the medical examiner's office wheel out a body on a stretcher from the Gold Spa massage parlor where three people were shot and killed on Tuesday in Atlanta, Georgia

People with the medical examiner’s office wheel out a body on a stretcher from the Gold Spa massage parlor where three people were shot and killed on Tuesday in Atlanta, Georgia

Bodies are wheeled out of Gold Spa in Atlanta where a man opened fire. Two other massage parlors were targeted

Bodies are wheeled out of Gold Spa in Atlanta where a man opened fire. Two other massage parlors were targeted

Bodies are wheeled out of Gold Spa in Atlanta where a man opened fire. Two other massage parlors were targeted

The shootings occurred on Tuesday afternoon around the Atlanta area. A body is seen being wheeled out of Gold Spa

The shootings occurred on Tuesday afternoon around the Atlanta area. A body is seen being wheeled out of Gold Spa

The shootings occurred on Tuesday afternoon around the Atlanta area. A body is seen being wheeled out of Gold Spa

Police have not yet revealed what kind of gun was used in the shootings or if it was legally owned. 

A classmate who attended high school with Long told The Daily Beast anonymously: ‘He was very innocent seeming and wouldn’t even cuss. 

‘He was sorta nerdy and didn’t seem violent from what I remember. He was a hunter and his father was a youth minister or pastor. He was big into religion.’ 

Police issued this photo of Long before he was arrested on Tuesday night

Police issued this photo of Long before he was arrested on Tuesday night

Police issued this photo of Long before he was arrested on Tuesday night

Long is believed to have first opened fire at Young’s Asian Massage near Acworth, a city about 32 miles northwest of Atlanta, at 5pm. Four people were killed in that shooting.

Then, Long is accused of driving to Atlanta and opening fire in Gold Massage Spa, killing three women. 

When police were there, they received reports of more shots across the street at Aromatherapy Spa, where the eighth victim was found. 

Long went on the run after the shootings and was eventually arrested after police rammed his Hyundai off the road. He was arrested some 150 miles southwest of Atlanta in Crisp County. 

So far, he is yet to give a motive for the crimes.

But with six Asian women among the dead – four of them believed to be of Korean descent – the killing has already reignited anger over a surge in crime against Asian-Americans during the pandemic. 

The White House has been sending out information about the shootings and Biden being briefed. Here is an add for the story:

President Joe Biden will be briefed over the phone by Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray on the shootings later Wednesday morning, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

The president is scheduled to travel to Atlanta on Friday to promote his America Rescue Plan as part of his sales pitch on COVID relief but that trip will likely be altered to acknowledge the deadly killings.

Biden condemned the increased number of hate crimes against Asians in his primetime speech last week, saying they have been ‘attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated’ because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Long is shown in a 2018 video from his baptist church's website where he talks about his love of God. The video has been removed

Long is shown in a 2018 video from his baptist church's website where he talks about his love of God. The video has been removed

Long is shown in a 2018 video from his baptist church’s website where he talks about his love of God. The video has been removed

‘It’s wrong. It’s un-American, and it must stop,’ he said.

Many believe the racist attacks were fueled by President Donald Trump referring to COVID as the ‘China virus’ as it was first seen in Wuhan, China. 

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, noting that four of the women were believed to be of Korean descent. 

In a 2018 video on his church’s website, Long said: ‘As many of you may remember, when I was 8 years old I thought I was becoming a Christian, and got baptized during that time.

‘And I remember a lot of the reason for that is a lot of my friends in my Sunday school class were doing that. And after that time, there wasn’t any fruit from the root that is our salvation.’ 

The church has taken its website offline. It said on Tuesday that elders would be releasing a statement on the attacks. 

Georgia governor Brian Kemp said last night that ‘our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence’, while Sen. Raphael Warnock said that ‘my heart is broken after the tragic violence’ in Atlanta. 

‘Once again we see that hate is deadly. Praying for the families of the victims and for peace for the community,’ Warnock said.  

The suspect was captured by surveillance video pulling up to Young's Asian Massage around 4:50pm, just minutes before the shooting

The suspect was captured by surveillance video pulling up to Young's Asian Massage around 4:50pm, just minutes before the shooting

The suspect was captured by surveillance video pulling up to Young's Asian Massage around 4:50pm, just minutes before the shooting

The suspect was captured by surveillance video pulling up to Young's Asian Massage around 4:50pm, just minutes before the shooting

The suspect was captured by surveillance video pulling up to Young’s Asian Massage around 4:50pm, just minutes before the shooting

The suspect was captured pulling away from the business in a black Hyundai SUV after the shooting had occurred in Cherokee County near Bells Ferry Road north of Atlanta

The suspect was captured pulling away from the business in a black Hyundai SUV after the shooting had occurred in Cherokee County near Bells Ferry Road north of Atlanta

The suspect was captured pulling away from the business in a black Hyundai SUV after the shooting had occurred in Cherokee County near Bells Ferry Road north of Atlanta

Cops had initially responded to reports of a robbery in progress, but detectives believe nothing was stolen.  

Details had yet to emerge about the victims. But Adriana Mejia, the niece of one of those injured, 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. 

Two residents of the Atlanta neighborhood, Piedmont Heights, described the stretch where the shootings took place to the New York Times as the ‘red-light district’ of the local community.   

After his car was seen pulling up to the Acworth parlor shortly before the shooting, police said footage showed the same vehicle in the area of the Atlanta spas about the time of those attacks as well. 

That, as well as other 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. 

Long was taken into custody after a ‘brief pursuit’ about 150 miles from Atlanta in which state troopers caused the the suspect’s Hyundai to ‘spin out of control’ until Long was stopped and detained.  

South Korea’s foreign ministry said diplomats in Atlanta have confirmed from police that four of the victims who died were women of Korean descent. A Korean consulate was working to confirm their nationality.  

Authorities investigate a fatal shooting at Young's Asian Massage where a gunman opened fire before targeting two other businesses

Authorities investigate a fatal shooting at Young's Asian Massage where a gunman opened fire before targeting two other businesses

Authorities investigate a fatal shooting at Young’s Asian Massage where a gunman opened fire before targeting two other businesses

Law enforcement officials confer outside Gold Spa following a shooting on Tuesday

Law enforcement officials confer outside Gold Spa following a shooting on Tuesday

Law enforcement officials confer outside Gold Spa following a shooting on Tuesday

A police official stands in front of Aromatherapy Spa after a series of shootings on Tuesday

A police official stands in front of Aromatherapy Spa after a series of shootings on Tuesday

A police official stands in front of Aromatherapy Spa after a series of shootings on Tuesday

At least eight people were reported dead following a string of shootings at three metro Atlanta massage parlors. The proximity of Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa can be seen in this photo

At least eight people were reported dead following a string of shootings at three metro Atlanta massage parlors. The proximity of Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa can be seen in this photo

At least eight people were reported dead following a string of shootings at three metro Atlanta massage parlors. The proximity of Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa can be seen in this photo

The lights were still shining at the Aromatherapy spa which had earlier been the scene of a brutal killing

The lights were still shining at the Aromatherapy spa which had earlier been the scene of a brutal killing

The lights were still shining at the Aromatherapy spa which had earlier been the scene of a brutal killing

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

The shootings took place at spas where a majority of the employees are Asian, but it was not immediately clear whether the victims were staff, customers or bystanders. 

An advocacy group called Stop AAPI Hate – which just hours earlier had released a report on increasing violence against Asian-Americans – said the shootings were an ‘unspeakable tragedy’. 

‘Right now there is a great deal of fear and pain in the Asian-American community that must be addressed,’ it said, while acknowledging that the motive was unclear.  

The Democratic party in the state called Tuesday’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.  

In an address to the nation last Thursday, President 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.

Due to the shootings, Atlanta police said they dispatched officers to check nearby similar businesses and increased patrols in the area. 

Hundreds of miles away in New York, the NYPD’s Critical Response Command was deployed to Asian communities throughout the city. The pandemic has seen a recent uptick in hate crimes towards Asian Americans. 

THE RISE OF ASIAN HATE CRIMES AMID THE PANDEMIC

During an address to the nation last week, President Joe Biden condemned what he called "vicious hate crimes" against Asian-Americans

During an address to the nation last week, President Joe Biden condemned what he called "vicious hate crimes" against Asian-Americans

During an address to the nation last week, President Joe Biden condemned what he called ‘vicious hate crimes’ against Asian-Americans

Last week, President Joe Biden condemned what he called ‘vicious hate crimes’ committed against Asian Americans since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, calling such acts ‘un-American’ and demanding they stop.

‘Too often, we’ve turned against one another,’ Biden said in his first primetime address, detailing the progress made in the fight against Covid-19.

The Democratic president decried ‘vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated’ over the pandemic, which originated in China.

‘At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans – they’re on the front lines of this pandemic trying to save lives and still, still they’re forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America,’ Biden said.

‘It’s wrong. It’s un-American. And it must stop.’

A protester takes part in a rally to raise awareness of anti-Asian violence, near Chinatown in Los Angeles last month

A protester takes part in a rally to raise awareness of anti-Asian violence, near Chinatown in Los Angeles last month

A protester takes part in a rally to raise awareness of anti-Asian violence, near Chinatown in Los Angeles last month

Activists say broader anti-Asian discrimination has been fueled by talk of the ‘Chinese virus’ from former president Donald Trump and others.

Just days into his presidency, Biden signed an executive order on January 26 condemning racism towards the Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community during the pandemic.

States are following suit, with California and New York allocating more resources to combating anti-Asian racism and draft legislation in the works in New York.

Racial motivation is hard to establish in many cases, but reported anti-Asian hate crimes more than doubled from 49 to 122 last year across 16 major US cities including New York and Los Angeles – even as overall hate crime fell, according to a California State University study.

The report looked at events categorized as criminal in nature and showing evidence of ethnic or racial bias, using preliminary local police data.

It aligns with another study from the Stop AAPI Hate advocacy group showing more than 2,800 incidents of racism and discrimination – including non-physical forms – targeting Asian-Americans and reported online across the United States between March and December last year.

While absolute numbers of hate crimes remain relatively small, Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), which co-founded the Stop AAPI Hate advocacy group, says it’s likely there are many more lower-level incidents going undetected.

‘The recent surge has to do with the fact that there’s blame being pointed at China’ over Covid-19, Choi said. ‘And then also couple that with racist rhetoric by the former president… and other elected officials.’

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