A string of shootings at Atlanta-area massage parlors on Tuesday evening has put Asian communities across the United States on high alert and prompted law enforcement officials to increase patrols.
At least eight people were killed and another person was injured when a man opened fire in three separate massage businesses in a suburb northwest of Atlanta and in the northeastern part of the city. A suspect was arrested about 150 miles south of Atlanta within hours of the shootings.
Here is what we know about the shootings.
Around 5 p.m. Tuesday, the first shooting was reported at Young’s Asian Massage near Acworth, a suburb northwest of Atlanta, said Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. Four people died and a fifth person, a Hispanic man, was injured. His condition is not yet known.
At 5:47 p.m., the Atlanta police responded to a report of a robbery at Gold Spa in the northeastern part of the city. The authorities found the bodies of three women with gunshot wounds. While they were at the scene, officers received a report of shots fired at the Aromatherapy Spa across the street, where they found the body of another woman.
Who is the suspect and how was he caught?
Around 6:30 p.m., the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office released surveillance images of the suspect, wearing a black and red shirt and driving a black S.U.V. outside one of the massage parlors. The authorities urged people to call if they recognized the man or the vehicle.
About 90 minutes later, the sheriff’s office in Crisp County, Ga., about 150 miles south of Atlanta, received information that the suspect was traveling south on Interstate 75. Georgia State Patrol and Crisp County deputies spotted a black 2007 Hyundai Tucson around mile marker 101, the authorities said. A state trooper performed a maneuver, causing the S.U.V. to spin out of control. The driver was arrested without incident and was taken to the Crisp County jail.
The suspect, who is white, was identified as Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Ga.
6 of the 8 victims were Asian women
The identities of the victims have not been released. However, six of the people killed were Asian, and two were white, according to law enforcement officials. All but one were women. A Hispanic man was injured in the shooting at Young’s Asian Massage near Acworth. His condition is not yet known.
On Wednesday, an official from the South Korean consulate in Atlanta, citing the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, confirmed that four of the eight people who were killed were ethnic Koreans. But the nationalities of the four women were not immediately known, the official said.
What don’t we know yet?
Georgia’s Asian-American population has grown in recent decades. About 7.6 percent of residents in Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, are of Asian descent, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
While the authorities have not said if the shootings were racially motivated, police departments in at least two American cities on Tuesday moved to increase patrols amid a rise in hate crimes targeting Asians.
The New York Police Department’s counterterrorism bureau said on Twitter that it would “be deploying assets to our great Asian communities across the city out of an abundance of caution.” On the West Coast, the Seattle Police Department said on Tuesday night that it would increase patrols and outreach to support the city’s Asian-American community.
Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that was formed to fight anti-Asian discrimination during the coronavirus pandemic, said on Twitter on Tuesday that there was a “great deal of fear and pain in the Asian-American community” and that the shootings were an “unspeakable tragedy.”
Nearly 3,800 hate incidents targeting Asian-Americans have been reported in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., since last March, the organization said in a new report earlier in the day.
The F.B.I. is assisting the local authorities in the investigation.
Reporting was contributed by Richard Fausset, Neil Vigdor, Sean Keenan, Azi Paybarah, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio and Choe Sang-Hun.