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Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Gunman, 21, who loved 'guns and God' is arrested after shooting dead eight people - including six Asian women - at three massage parlors in Atlanta

 A 21-year-old man who professed he loved 'guns and God' on social media has been arrested in Georgia after allegedly killing eight people including six Asian women in a shooting spree at three different massage parlors on Tuesday. 

Robert Aaron Long is suspected of killing seven women - six of them Asian and one white - and a white man on Tuesday evening in Atlanta in an as-yet unexplained attack on three different parlors. 

On an Instagram page that is believed to belong to him but that has been taken down by law enforcement, he said: 'Pizza, guns, drums, music, family, and God. 

'This pretty much sums up my life. It’s a pretty good life.'   

Little is known of the suspect or his alleged motive other than that he was an enthusiastic baptist who hunted with his father when he was a child.

When he was arrested, he is said to have told sheriffs that he picked the locations specifically but he did not share why. 

Local network WSBTV reports that he did not indicate that race was a factor, but a motive is yet to be given.  

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.' 

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.  

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted on Wednesday morning that President Joe Biden was aware of the shootings. 

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. 

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

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

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

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. 

Cops had initially responded to reports of a robbery in progress, but 11Alive News says detectives believe nothing was stolen. Police say the possibility of a racial motive is just one aspect of their investigation.     

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. 

One of them, Gregory Welch, said: 'It’s for sure disturbing, but even more so if it’s related to an anti-Asian factor from the Covid pandemic'.  

As more details emerged about the sequence of events that took place on Tuesday afternoon, more information also came to light about the suspect's life. 

'Pizza, guns, drums, music, family, and God. This pretty much sums up my life. It's a pretty good life,' stated a tagline on an Instagram account believed to be Long's.  


A student who he went to high school with in 2017 told the Daily Beast Long was keen on religion but never seemed violent.  

'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.'     

A youth pastor at the Crabapple First Baptist Church confirmed he was the suspect in the shootings, while reports said he had habitually attended the church with his family while his mother would organize events there.  

In a 2018 video for the church - which had been deleted by Wednesday morning - Long had reportedly talked about his faith and described how he found God after hearing the biblical story of the prodigal son.  

'By the grace of God I was able to draw the connection there and realize this is a story between what happened with me and God. I ran away living completely for myself, and he still wants me, and so that's when I was saved,' he said. 

The Crapabble church gave a statement to Heavy.com saying it was 'grieved to hear the tragic news' about the deaths and was 'heartbroken for all involved'. 

'We grieve for the victims and their families, and we continue to pray for them. Moreover, we are distraught for the Long family and continue to pray for them as well,' it 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 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

On Tuesday, Long found himself to be the prime suspect in the murders of seven women and one man. 

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

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. 

The first shooting happened just before 5pm on Tuesday at Young's Asian Massage parlor off Bells Ferry Road and Highway 92 in Acworth, Georgia about 30 miles from Atlanta. 

It appears that all five victims were shot inside the business. 

Two of the victims died at the scene and three were transported to a hospital where two of them also died, Cherokee County Sheriff's Office spokesman Jay Baker said. 

The owner of a neighboring boutique told the NYT that she had called 911 after hearing noises that sounded like claps followed by the sound of women screaming.  

The shopping center where Young's Asian Massage is located was closed to the public as investigators search for ballistics, fingerprints and other evidence according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution

The suspect was captured by surveillance video pulling up to the Acworth business at around 4:50pm, just minutes before the shooting.  

Atlanta massage parlor shootings leave eight dead, one arrested
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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

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

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 sheriff's office posted surveillance pictures on its Facebook page, asking people to share the images that show the man near the vehicle.

From there, it's believed the gunman drove more than 30 miles and opened fire at two other businesses northeast of the city in the suburb of Woodland Hills. 

Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said three people were killed Gold Spa, while a fourth person was killed across the street at Aromatherapy Spa. 

He said all four victims were female, and 'it appears that they may be Asian.' 

The second set of shootings occurred less than an hour and fifteen minutes later, just before 6pm at Gold Spa. 

Police were called to the location having been told that a robbery was taking place on the premises. 

Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant, pictured, said three people were killed at a spa in northeast Atlanta, while a fourth person was killed at another spa across the street. He said all four victims were female, and 'It appears that they may be Asian.'

Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant, pictured, said three people were killed at a spa in northeast Atlanta, while a fourth person was killed at another spa across the street. He said all four victims were female, and 'It appears that they may be Asian.'

When police entered Gold Spa they found three women who had all been shot and subsequently died from their wounds.

'While at that location we received another call across the street that had shots fired,' Bryant said. 'We responded to that to find another individual was shot at that location.' 

Cops then rushed to Aromatherapy Spa directly across the street. Officers responded immediately, crossing Piedmont Road to find that one woman had also been shot and killed there as well. 

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.

On Tuesday evening in Atlanta, Piedmont Road was still completely shut down in both directions with heavy police activity in the area.

Officers could be seen with guns walking on the street outside both spas. Chief Bryant assured the public there was no immediate danger to the public.

Investigators are now gathering information from the scenes to determine the timeline of what occurred and the motive behind the shootings.

Law enforcement officials did not offer a motive for the shooting rampage and said they did not immediately know if the Asian women were targeted. Also killed in the Cherokee attacks were a white woman and a white man. 

Police from all jurisdictions say they are 'very confident' that the same suspect was the gunman in all three shootings. 

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