WOODSTOCK, Ga. (NewsNation Now) — Shootings at two massage parlors in Atlanta and one in the suburbs left eight people dead, many of them women of Asian descent, authorities said Tuesday. A 21-year-old man was taken into custody in southwest Georgia hours later after a manhunt.
Authorities in Cherokee County said five people were shot around 5 p.m. at Young’s Asian Massage Parlor in Acworth, about 30 miles north of Atlanta. Two of the victims were dead and three were transported to a hospital where two of them also died, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Jay Baker said.
Around 5:50 p.m., Atlanta police officers responded to a call of a robbery in progress at Gold Spa found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds, police said. While they were at that scene, they learned of a call reporting shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, and found a woman who appeared to have been shot dead inside the business.
“It appears that they may be Asian,” Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that its diplomats in Atlanta have confirmed from police that four of the victims who died were women of Korean descent. The ministry said the office of its Consulate General in Atlanta is trying to confirm the nationality of the women.
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office shared photos of the Acworth suspected shooter and their vehicle on Facebook after surveillance video captured them pulling up to the business around 4:50 p.m.
Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock said in a video posted on Facebook that his deputies and state troopers were notified around 8 p.m. that a murder suspect out of north Georgia was headed toward their county. Deputies and troopers set up along the interstate and “made contact with the suspect,” who was driving a 2007 black Hyundai Tucson, around 8:30 p.m., he said.
A state trooper performed a PIT, or pursuit intervention technique, maneuver, “which caused the vehicle to spin out of control,” Hancock said. Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, was then taken into custody “without incident” and was being held in the Crisp County jail for Cherokee County authorities who were expected to arrive soon to continue their investigation.
Capt. Baker said the sheriff’s office believes 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long is also the suspect in the Atlanta shootings.
Atlanta Police Department Sergeant John Chafee added the APD believes the suspect is connected to the multiple shootings as well.
“Many have asked whether these shootings are related to Cherokee County’s shootings. Video footage from our Video Integration Center places the Cherokee County suspect’s vehicle in the area, around the time of our Piedmont Road shootings. That, along with video evidence viewed by investigators, suggests it is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County’s, who is in custody. Because of this, an investigator from APD is in Cherokee County and we are working closely with them to confirm with certainty our cases are related.”
Atlanta Police Department Sergeant John Chafee
With two shootings at massage parlors in Atlanta and the knowledge of the Acworth shooting, Atlanta police said they dispatched officers to check nearby similar businesses and increased patrols in the area.
FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said the agency was assisting Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities in the investigation.
In a Tweet, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp thanked the Georgia Department of Public Safety along with local and federal law enforcement for stopping the suspect quickly.
The killings came amid a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.