Atlanta police said Thursday that ‘nothing is off the table’ in the investigation of the deadly shootings at Georgia massage parlors, including whether it was a hate crime.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, has been charged with murdering four people at two spas in Atlanta and four more in a spa in Cherokee County Tuesday. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent.
‘Our investigation is looking at everything, so nothing is off the table,’ Deputy Atlanta Police Chief Charles Hampton Jr. said at a news conference.
The Cherokee County Sheriff´s Office also said it was investigating whether the killings were hate crimes.
Long – who was said to be customer at two out of the three targeted spas – told police on Wednesday that the attacks were not racially motivated. Police say he bought the firearm used to kill eight people on the day of the attack.
He claimed to have a sex addiction, and authorities said he apparently lashed out at what he saw as sources of temptation.
Long’s statements spurred outrage and widespread skepticism in the Asian American community, which has increasingly been targeted for violence during the coronavirus pandemic.
Cherokee County Sheriff´s Office spokesman Capt. Jay Baker also drew criticism for saying Long had ‘a really bad day’ and ‘this is what he did.’
Sheriff Frank Reynolds released a statement Thursday acknowledging that some of Baker´s comments stirred ‘much debate and anger’ and said the agency regrets any ‘heartache’ caused by his words.
Baker has since been removed as a spokesperson for the case, WSB-TV reported Thursday.