The man charged with killing eight people in a series of shootings at massage parlors in the southeastern U.S. state of Georgia is expected to be arraigned Thursday.
Prosecutors Wednesday charged Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Georgia, with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault. He was arrested after the Atlanta-area shootings late Tuesday and is being held in the Cherokee Country Adult Detention Center.
Police said Wednesday they did not yet have a motive for the shootings in which six of those killed were women of Asian descent. A white man and a white woman were the other two victims. A ninth person remained hospitalized with injuries, police said.
When he was arrested, Long told police the attacks were not racially motivated. He had issues with “sex addiction,” authorities said.
The shootings appear to be at the “intersection of gender-based violence, misogyny and xenophobia,” state Rep. Bee Nguyen, the first Vietnamese American to serve in the Georgia House, said.
Nguyen has been a frequent advocate for women and communities of color in the state, The Associated Press reported.
“He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places. And it’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” Cherokee County sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker told reporters.
Officials said they didn’t know if Long had actually frequented the parlors where the shootings occurred and said he may have been on his way to Florida to commit more shootings.
A law enforcement officer told the cable news network CNN that Long’s family had recently kicked him out of the house because of his sexual addiction. He reportedly spent hours watching pornography.
Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said it was too early to classify the shootings as hate crimes.
The first attack took place at a massage parlor in the town of Acworth, about 50 kilometers north of Atlanta. Authorities there said a shooter killed two Asian women, a white woman and a white man, and wounded another man.
About an hour later, police in Atlanta found three Asian women dead from apparent gunshot wounds at a beauty spa. They then found another Asian woman dead of a gunshot at a spa a short distance away.
Police said surveillance video showed the suspect’s vehicle at all three locations, and that they were very confident the same shooter was responsible for all the attacks.
After a highway pursuit, police stopped a vehicle about 240 kilometers south of Atlanta and arrested Long.
Newsday and Agencies