The gunman who went on a three hour rampage that left eight dead at Georgia massage parlors was caught after his parents spotted him in surveillance pictures released by police and called 911, authorities said Wednesday.
Officers say they found Robert Aaron Long, 21, thanks to help from his parents, who recognized him from surveillance footage posted by authorities and gave investigators his cellphone information.
Cherokee County sheriff Frank Reynolds said cops then used that information to track and find him, adding: ‘They’re very distraught, and they were very helpful in this apprehension.’
Police Captain Jay Baker said: ‘We are really appreciative of the family. Without them, this would not have happened as, well, as quickly as it happened. They were very supportive, and certainly this was difficult for them.’
God-fearing gunman Long targeted the locations – one in Acworth and two in Atlanta – because he’d visited them before and blamed them for his sex addiction, cops revealed on Wednesday morning.
He then went on the run and was driving to Florida to target porn-industry locations when he was arrested 150 miles south of Atlanta, police said. Officers rammed his Hyundai off the road to take him into custody where he is said to have confessed to the killings.
Atlanta police on Wednesday released 911 calls made during the shooting. In one a woman inside the Gold Spa whispers as she tells the operator she is hiding and that a robbery is in progress.
Ten minutes later in a second call regarding the Aromatherapy Spa a caller says: ‘They said some guy came in. We heard a gunshot and, you know, the lady’s passed out in front of the door. And everybody is scared and everybody is hiding.’
Robert Aaron Long, 21, told police that he has a sex addiction and viewed the parlors as an ‘outlet’ and ‘temptation’ that he wanted to remove. He confessed to the killings after police rammed his car off the road at 8pm on Tuesday night. He was on his way to Florida to carry out more attacks. He has been charged with four counts of murder and aggravated assault in Cherokee County, where the first salon is that was targeted. He hasn’t yet been in charged in Atlanta
Pictured is Long’s home in Woodstock, Georgia. Officers say they found Robert Aaron Long, 21, thanks to help from his parents, who recognized him from surveillance footage posted by authorities and gave investigators his cellphone information. Cherokee County sheriff Frank Reynolds said cops then used that information to track and find him, adding: ‘They’re very distraught, and they were very helpful in this apprehension’
Jessica Lang pauses and places her hand on the door in a moment of grief after dropping off flowers with her daughter Summer at Youngs Asian Massage parlor where four people were killed
Four of the eight victims have now been named as; Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Yan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44. Elcias R Hernandez-Ortiz was injured but survived. Friends of Yaun say that she and her husband were there for a couple’s massage. He escaped but she was killed.
Not all of the victims were staff. Yaun’s friends say she was a paying customer who was in the parlor to get a couple’s treatment with her husband.
Initially, police said they were probing whether race was a factor in the attacks because six of the eight victims were Asian women.
But on Wednesday morning, they said Long told them that was not why he carried out the attacks. Instead, he said he is addicted to sex and porn, and wanted to remove the ‘temptation’ of the parlors.
He told police that he saw the parlors as an ‘outlet’ for his sex addiction. Detectives have not clarified if he had ever engaged in sex acts with any of the staff there.
Long has been charged with killing eight people. The gunman bought his 9mm handgun hours before the rampage, police said.
Georgia police comments sparked an angry reaction from some online who branded them an example of white privilege in action
He was on his way to Florida to carry out more attacks when he was caught. The Florida locations were somehow connected to pornography, police said on Wednesday without revealing more details.
‘He claims that it was not racially motivated… he has an issue that he considers a sex addiction and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places… it’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,’ Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office said at a Wednesday press conference.
Baker added that it had been a ‘very bad day’ for the suspect, and said: ‘He was at the end of his rope’. He didn’t elaborate on what had happened earlier in the day.
Those comments sparked an angry reaction from some online who branded them an example of white privilege in action.
Hari Kondabolu said: ‘The fact he sees ASIAN WOMEN as ‘temptations’ for his sex addiction is racial motivation. Not seeing this as racist IS racist. #StopAsianHate.’
Qasim Rashid tweeted: ‘Retweet if you’ve had a bad day during this pandemic or ever in life and didn’t mass murder 8 people. Apparently that’s where the bar is now. White supremacy is a helluva drug.’
But Tim Willcutts defended Capt. Baker, writing: ‘He wasn’t apologizing for him. He was attempting to explain why this happened.’ Alicia Gibbs said: ‘He’s relaying what the investigators said. He wasn’t apologizing.’
Another Twitter user, Shannon Hillis, said: ‘Not everything is about race.’
Greg Rook tweeted: ‘Two of the six shot outside Atlanta were not Asian. What would you say if he shot mostly WASPs, that he was a racist hating on white people? BTW, I am a very progressive, liberal democrat, but I’m tiring of this constant virtue signaling. Not everything is about race or racism.’
Three shootings at spas and massage parlors around Atlanta left eight people dead and police on the hunt for those responsible
People with the medical examiner’s office wheel out a body on a stretcher from the Gold Spa massage parlor where three people were shot and killed on Tuesday in Atlanta, Georgia
Bodies are wheeled out of Gold Spa in Atlanta where a man opened fire. Two other massage parlors were targeted
The shootings occurred on Tuesday afternoon around the Atlanta area. A body is seen being wheeled out of Gold Spa
Long’s family – including his youth minister father – are ‘devastated’ by his actions and are cooperating with the investigation.
Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, was killed in the first parlor in Acworth. Her friends claim she was a customer and had gone to the parlor in Acworth to get her own massage when she was killed
A classmate who attended high school with Long earlier told The Daily Beast anonymously: ‘He was very innocent seeming and wouldn’t even cuss. He was sorta nerdy and didn’t seem violent from what I remember. He was a hunter and his father was a youth minister or pastor.
‘He was big into religion.’
Long is believed to have first opened fire at Young’s Asian Massage near Acworth, a city about 32 miles northwest of Atlanta, at 5pm. Four people were killed in that shooting.
Then, Long is accused of driving to Atlanta and opening fire in Gold Massage Spa, killing three women.
When police were there, they received reports of more shots across the street at Aromatherapy Spa, where the eighth victim was found.
Long went on the run after the shootings and was eventually arrested after police rammed his Hyundai off the road.
He was arrested some 150 miles southwest of Atlanta in Crisp County.
While police say his sex addiction is the motive, many have pointed to the fact that the attacks happened during a period of heightened violence against Asian Americans.
President Joe Biden will be briefed over the phone by Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray on the shootings later Wednesday morning, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
The president is scheduled to travel to Atlanta on Friday to promote his America Rescue Plan as part of his sales pitch on COVID relief but that trip will likely be altered to acknowledge the deadly killings.
Biden said at an afternoon press conference that he was making ‘no connection at this moment’ between the killings and race. But he added: ‘I’m very concerned, because as you know, I’ve been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans for the last couple months, and I think it is very, very troubling.’
Incidents of bias against Asian people have spiked in recent months after the coronavirus was tied to Wuhan, China, and former President Donald Trump took to calling it the ‘China Virus’.
Biden said: ‘I am making no connection at this moment to the motivation of the killer. I’m waiting for an answer as the investigation proceeds from the FBI and from the Justice Department. I’ll have more to say when the investigation is completed.’
The president had already condemned the increased number of hate crimes against Asians in his primetime speech last week, saying they have been ‘attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated’ because of the coronavirus pandemic.
‘It’s wrong. It’s un-American, and it must stop,’ he said.
Atlanta police on Wednesday released 911 calls made during the shooting. In one a woman inside the Gold Spa, pictured, tells the operator she is hiding and that a robbery is in progress
Memorial flowers were placed outside Young’s Asian Massage salon, scene of four shooting deaths Tuesday
Georgia Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock, a minister, said ‘this kind of violence’ is driven by hate even if the suspect said that was not his motive.
‘Anybody who takes precious lives in that manner is driven by hate,’ he told reporters on Capitol Hill.
‘This kind of violence happens too often in America. And we weep with those who weep. But we got to do everything we can in terms of addressing bigotry and hate in our country,’ he said.
Embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo tweeted: ‘Our hearts break for the 8 victims of the Georgia shootings last night, 6 of Asian descent.
‘While we await details from Georgia, this much we do know: Hate crimes against Asian Americans have soared during COVID. And it must stop.
‘NY will always stand up against bigotry & hate.’
At a press conference on Wednesday, the Mayor of Atlanta said that while these killings do not seem to be have been driven by racism, there is a problem with anti-American-Asian hatred.
‘Whether it is senseless violence that we’ve seen play out in our streets, or more targeted violence like we saw yesterday, a crime against any community is a crime against us all.’
The suspect was captured by surveillance video pulling up to Young’s Asian Massage around 4:50pm, just minutes before the shooting
The suspect was captured pulling away from the business in a black Hyundai SUV after the shooting had occurred in Cherokee County near Bells Ferry Road north of Atlanta
Many believe the racist attacks were fueled by President Donald Trump referring to COVID as the ‘China virus’ as it was first seen in Wuhan, China.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is in South Korea meeting with Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong, mentioned the killings during an opening statement.
‘We are horrified by this violence which has no place in America or anywhere,’ he said, noting that four of the women were believed to be of Korean descent.
In a 2018 video on his church’s website, Long said: ‘As many of you may remember, when I was 8 years old I thought I was becoming a Christian, and got baptized during that time.
Police issued this photo of Long before he was arrested on Tuesday night
‘And I remember a lot of the reason for that is a lot of my friends in my Sunday school class were doing that. And after that time, there wasn’t any fruit from the root that is our salvation.’
The church has taken its website offline. It said on Tuesday that elders would be releasing a statement on the attacks.
Georgia governor Brian Kemp said last night that ‘our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence’, while Sen. Raphael Warnock said that ‘my heart is broken after the tragic violence’ in Atlanta.
‘Once again we see that hate is deadly. Praying for the families of the victims and for peace for the community,’ Warnock said.
Cops had initially responded to reports of a robbery in progress, but detectives believe nothing was stolen.
Details had yet to emerge about the victims. But Adriana Mejia, the niece of one of those injured, said the family was ‘devastated’ after her uncle was shot and that they were praying for his recovery.
‘We never know when we’re at the wrong place at the wrong time because this was so all of a sudden,’ she said.
Two residents of the Atlanta neighborhood, Piedmont Heights, described the stretch where the shootings took place to the New York Times as the ‘red-light district’ of the local community.
After his car was seen pulling up to the Acworth parlor shortly before the shooting, police said footage showed the same vehicle in the area of the Atlanta spas about the time of those attacks as well.
That, as well as other video evidence, ‘suggests it is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County’s, who is in custody,’ Atlanta police said in a statement.
Long was taken into custody after a ‘brief pursuit’ about 150 miles from Atlanta in which state troopers caused the the suspect’s Hyundai to ‘spin out of control’ until Long was stopped and detained.
South Korea’s foreign ministry said diplomats in Atlanta have confirmed from police that four of the victims who died were women of Korean descent.
A Korean consulate was working to confirm their nationality.
Authorities investigate a fatal shooting at Young’s Asian Massage where a gunman opened fire before targeting two other businesses
Law enforcement officials confer outside Gold Spa following a shooting on Tuesday
A police official stands in front of Aromatherapy Spa after a series of shootings on Tuesday
At least eight people were reported dead following a string of shootings at three metro Atlanta massage parlors. The proximity of Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa can be seen in this photo
The lights were still shining at the Aromatherapy spa which had earlier been the scene of a brutal killin