ATLANTA — Authorities arrested a 21-year-old Georgia man on Tuesday after investigators said he opened fire at three separate metro Atlanta spas earlier in the day, killing eight people and injuring one other.
The victims included several women of Asian descent. Authorities continue to investigate the motive behind the attack.
Here’s what we know so far:
1. Authorities identified the suspect as Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Georgia.
Capt. Jay Baker, a spokesperson for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, identified the suspected shooter as Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock. Authorities said he shot at least nine people Tuesday evening at a massage parlor in Cherokee County and two others in northeast Atlanta.
“The suspect did take responsibility for the shootings,” Baker said Wednesday at a news conference.
Police said video footage also showed Long’s vehicle near the Atlanta spas at the time of the shootings, The Associated Press reported.
2. Investigators believe Long may have been motivated by a sex addiction.
Authorities reiterated Wednesday that it remained too early to say whether Tuesday’s deadly shootings constituted a hate crime.
“We’ve received a number of calls about ‘Is this a hate crime?’” Atlanta police Chief Rodney Bryant said Wednesday. “We are still early in this investigation, so we cannot make that determination at this moment.”
Baker said Wednesday that Long told investigators the shootings were not racially motivated.
“He apparently has issues, what he considers a sex addiction,” he said. “(He) sees these locations as... a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”
Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said Long “frequented these places in the past and may have been lashing out,” though he also said the attacks might have been “targets of opportunity.”
“In the halfway house, he would describe several of his sexual addiction ‘relapses,’ as he called them,” Bayless, who was receiving treatment for drug addiction at the time and lived in the same housing unit as Long, told Reuters. “He would have a deep feeling of remorse and shame and say he needed to return to prayer and to return to God.”
On Tuesday, the nonprofit group Stop AAPI Hate, released a statement calling the incident “an unspeakable tragedy.”
“The reported shootings of Asian American women on Tuesday in Atlanta is an unspeakable tragedy – for the families of the victims first and foremost, but also for the AAPI community – which has been reeling from high levels of racial discrimination,” Stop AAPI Hate tweeted Tuesday night. “Few details have been released, including whether or not the shootings were related or motivated by hate. But right now there is a great deal of fear and pain in the Asian American community that must be addressed.”
Diplomats with South Korea’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that four victims were women of Korean descent, but officials had not yet confirmed their nationalities, according to the AP.
3. Long might have targeted businesses in Florida next.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Wednesday that investigators determined Long planned to head to Florida following Tuesday’s shooting to carrying out similar attacks there.
“It really speaks to the coordination and the quick response from law enforcement, for as tragic as this was on yesterday for metro Atlanta, this could have been significantly worse,” she said. “It is very likely that there would have been more victims.”
Baker said Long planned to target “some type of porn industry in that state.”
4. Tuesday’s deadly shootings began at a spa near Acworth.
Deputies were called to Young’s Asian Massage near Acworth about 5 p.m. ET Tuesday, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Howard J. Baker told CNN. Authorities said four people – including two women of Asian descent, one white woman and one white man – were killed and a Hispanic man was hurt after a gunman opened fire, The Washington Post reported.
Nearly an hour later, Atlanta police responded to two Piedmont Road spas, where four women of Asian descent had been shot and killed – three at Gold Spa and one at Aromatherapy Spa, according to WSB-TV.
Authorities have yet not released the names of the victims.
5. Long was captured Tuesday night in south Georgia.
In a Facebook video shared Tuesday night, Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock said authorities were told that Long was headed to their area. Deputies and state troopers “made contact with the suspect” about 8:30 p.m. ET along Interstate 75, Hancock said.
Hancock said a trooper performed a pursuit intervention technique on the black 2007 Hyundai Tucson, causing it “to spin out of control,” the AP reported. Long was then arrested, the sheriff said.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Cox Media Group