The suspect in the Atlanta spa shootings, Robert Aaron Long, 21, who has been charged with eight counts of murder, waived an arraignment that had been scheduled for Thursday, his lawyer said in a statement.
The attacks, in which six women of Asian descent were killed, brought a wave of outrage and attention to crimes against Asian people, though Mr. Long has told authorities that the attacks were an attempt to remove the temptation of his self-described sex addiction, and not motivated by racism. A former roommate of his at a halfway house said Mr. Long had tried to end his addiction as recently as early 2020 but had continued going to massage parlors for sex.
Still, politicians and community leaders said it could not be ignored that most of those killed in the rampage had been of Asian descent.
“We need to take care of our Asian neighbors,” said Jesus Estrella, who stood for hours holding a sign that read “Stop Asian Hate” outside of Young’s Asian Massage in an Atlanta suburb, one of the three spas that were targeted in the shootings.
Behind Mr. Estrella, smears of blood on a door frame were obscured by signs and flowers placed in honor of the four people killed there. The police have identified the victims as Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, Paul Andre Michels, 54, Xiaojie Tan, 49, and Daoyou Feng, 44. The authorities have said that two of the victims there were white.
Alex Acosta said on Wednesday that he had noticed the gunman parked in front of Gabby’s Boutique, next door to Young’s Asian Massage, for an hour before the shooting. On the other side of the spa, in Perfecto Beauty Salon, Martha Enciso said she and her co-workers did not make much of what sounded like someone pounding on the walls on Tuesday night, but had returned to their jobs on Wednesday with a mix of terror and dread when they learned what had happened.
“Life can’t slow down,” Ms. Enciso, 46, said. “We came in fear: Imagine, we are Hispanic, and some people hate us too.”
Less than an hour after the shooting at Young’s Asian Massage, the shootings continued at Gold Spa and Aromatherapy spa, which are near each other in the northeastern part of the City of Atlanta. There, four more people were killed, all of them women of Asian descent, the police said. The police have not yet named those victims.
Rodney Bryant, the acting chief of the Atlanta Police Department, said it was too early to say whether the police would classify the attacks as hate crimes.
Mr. Long, who is white, was arrested about 150 miles south of Atlanta after his parents saw a surveillance image and called the police to say that they believed their son was the wanted man. Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said Mr. Long told the police he had been on his way to Florida when he was caught, where he planned to commit similar violence against a business tied to the pornography industry.
Hours before the shootings, he had bought a gun from Big Woods Goods, a gun shop in suburban Atlanta, according to a lawyer for the store.