Suspect in custody following fatal shootings in Atlanta

Robert Aaron Long has been arrested following the fatal shootings of eight people in three different attacks across metropolitan Atlanta on Tuesday, with numerous others wounded and in hospital.

Undated photo provided by the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office of Robert Aaron Long. (Courtesy of Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Long has no prior record of criminal behaviour.

The first attack happened in Cherokee County, north-west of the city, with the following two attacks happening over an hour later across the street from each other in close succession, 30 miles away from the initial incident.

Emergency services were called to Young’s Asian Massage after reports of an incident where they found two victims dead on arrival.

A further three individuals were taken to hospital where two have since died.

An hour after authorities were called to the massage parlour in Cherokee County, they were called to respond to a robbery in progress at Gold Spa.

Upon arrival police officers discovered the bodies of three women who had been shot and killed.

Almost immediately the officers were then called to another spa across the street for a reported shooting where they found one more woman who had died from gunshot wounds.

A FBI spokesperson confirmed that the Atlanta Police Department, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI are working together on the investigation.

Video evidence of the incident suggests it was one individual responsible for all of the attacks, however this has yet to be officially confirmed by the authorities.

The identities of the victims have not yet been released to the public, however authorities did say that many of the victims were of Asian descent, with South Korea confirming that 4 of the deceased were Korean.

In a press release a spokesperson for the Atlanta Police Department said there were no immediate indications of motive.

However, this incident has occurred at a time when violence against Asian Americans has increased amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

AAPI Hate, created in response to increased bigotry and xenophobia experienced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States following the Covid-19 pandemic, released a report recently documenting nearly 4,000 reported hate crimes against the Asian American community since the beginning of the pandemic.

It is likely that this number is only a small fraction of the harassment, abuse and violence that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have experienced in the last year.

There has been a nationwide response to the shooting across the United States, with the police departments in New York and Seattle increasing law enforcement presence amongst Asian American communities.

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