According to a report from Associated Press, shootings at two massage parlors in Atlanta and one in the suburbs Tuesday evening left eight people dead, many of them women of Asian descent, authorities said.
The attacks began around 5 p.m., when five people were shot at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor in a strip mall near a rural area in Acworth, about 30 miles north of Atlanta, according to a Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman. Two people died at the scene and three were transported to a hospital where two of them also died.
Around 5:50 p.m., police in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, responding to a call of a robbery in progress, found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds at Gold Spa. While they were at that scene, they learned of a call reporting shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, and found a woman who appeared to have been shot dead inside the business.
The killings came amid a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States.
“Our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence,” Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday evening on Twitter.
A man suspected in the Acworth shooting was captured by surveillance video pulling up to the business around 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, minutes before the attack, authorities said. The suspect, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long of Woodstock, was taken into custody in Crisp County, about 150 miles south of Atlanta.
Police said they believe Long is also the suspect in the Atlanta shootings. FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said the agency would be assisting Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities in the investigation and will determine whether or not the killings would be classified as hate crimes.