Asian Americans and their allies are calling for solidarity and a push against discrimination and racist violence after a gunman killed eight people at three Atlanta-area spas Tuesday. Most of the victims were women of Asian descent.
Authorities said it’s too early to declare the attacks a hate crime – prompting a debate over when that label should be used and how to present the gunman’s explanation. In an incident report filed by the Atlanta Police Department, officers checked “no” under whether the attacks were a suspected hate crime. But police said Thursday they are still investigating the attacker’s motive.
The suspect, Robert Aaron Long, 21, has confessed, according to police, who said Long denied being motivated by racial animus. Officials in Cherokee County cited sex addiction and a “bad day” as possible explanations for the crime. Police suspect Long was under the influence of alcohol, according to the Atlanta incident report. He is being held in Cherokee, the county northwest of Atlanta where the shootings started.
Atlanta’s Deputy Chief Charles Hampton told reporters on Thursday afternoon that Long had purchased the weapon the day of the attack. He also confirmed Long had frequented at least two of the spas.