Georgia Spa shootings kill 8 People


Ariana Bruno, Writer

On March 16, 2021, a series of shootings occurred at three spas/massage parlors in the metropolitan area in Atlanta. Eight people were shot that day, six of which were Asian women. The other victim was wounded. Later in the day, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long was taken in by police as a suspect. Police have reported that Robert was motivated by a sexual addiction that was at odds with his religious beliefs. Jay Baker, a spokesperson for the police department handling the investigation into the horrific Atlanta spa murders, said that suspect Robert Aaron Long was having a bad day. “He was pretty much fed up, kind of at the end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did,” said Baker. This immediately attracted online criticism and led to the discovery of Baker’s anti-China sentiments on Facebook. thereby making the integrity of the investigation go back into question. Later that day, Baker was removed from his spokesman role in the investigation.

After the shootings, Long was charged with four counts of murder in Atlanta, and four counts of murder, and one count of aggravated assault in Cherokee County. Though Long has not been charged with a hate crime as part of the ongoing investigation, however, some have characterized the shootings as a hate crime, noting the rising Asian hate crimes in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Police report that Robert legally purchased a 9 mm handgun at Big Woods Goods, a firearms store/indoor gun range in Holly Springs, Cherokee County. This had been hours before the shooting. Like most states, Georgia does not have a waiting period to buy a gun so Robert easily got one. Surveillance footage shows him arriving at Young’s Asian Massage, and sitting for an hour in the parking lot before going in and shooting people. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms spoke with Asian Americans and said that it would be appropriate for Robert to be charged with a hate crime. Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp, tweeted his condolences to the victims, praised police for the quick arrest, and said that there were indications of a hate crime, but that he would let investigators determine the facts before he spoke out with his opinion on any social media platform.

However, on March 21 a few days after the murders, thousands of people had participated in protests that took place in Atlanta, New York City, Washington D.C., and even Montreal. All these protests were involved with denouncing anti-Asian sentiment and Asian hate crimes.