A white man accused of killing eight people, most of whom were of Asian descent, at massage parlors in the Atlanta area told police the attack was not racially motivated and that he potentially had a “sexual addiction,” officials said Wednesday.
By KATE FELDMAN
Still, authorities said they were investigating whether the deaths were hate crimes amid concerns over a wave of attacks on Asian Americans. Six of the victims were identified as Asian and seven were women.
Officials did not say that Robert Aaron Long, 21, ever went to the parlors where the shootings occurred. They also said he was planning to go to Florida in a plot to attack “some type of porn industry.”
“He made indicators that he has some issues, potentially sexual addiction, and may have frequented some of these places in the past,” said Sheriff Frank Reynolds, of Cherokee County, where one of the targeted businesses was.
He said it was too early to tell if it was racially motivated — “but the indicators right now are it may not be.” He added: “We believe that he frequented these places in the past and maybe have been lashing out.”
The attack was the sixth mass killing this year in the U.S., and the deadliest since the August 2019 Dayton killing that took the lives of nine people, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.
It follows a lull during the pandemic in 2020 that had the smallest number mass killings in more than a decade. The database tracks mass killings defined as four or more dead, not including the shooter.