8 killed in shootings at Atlanta-area spas

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 9:47 a.m. ET, March 18, 2021
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11:18 a.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Most of the Georgia shooting victims were Asian, 2 were White 

From CNN’s Amanda Watts


According to Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, most of the victims in Tuesday’s shooting in Georgia were Asian, and two were White. 

In total, eight people were killed in Atlanta and Cherokee County.

“Just to be clear, our victims – I know that, obviously, Atlanta, all their victims were Asian – two of our victims were white,” Baker said during a Wednesday briefing. 

“We had two Asians and two Whites that were killed at our location,” he explained. 

Earlier in the briefing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said regardless of the motivation of this crime:

“We know that many of the victims, the majority of the victims, were Asian. We also know that this is an issue that's happening across the country. It is unacceptable, it is hateful, and it has to stop.”

Officials stressed that it is still early in the investigation and nothing can be ruled out at this point.

Police have not yet offered a motive in the shootings.

11:21 a.m. ET, March 17, 2021

How police caught the suspect, according to local officials

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff Frank Reynolds speaks on March 17.
Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff Frank Reynolds speaks on March 17. WGCL

Officials today gave a chronological order of events that unfolded on Tuesday night in the Atlanta area, where eight people – including six Asian women – were shot dead at three metro Atlanta spas. One suspect is in custody, authorities said.

Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff Frank Reynolds says his department got a call about a shooting at about 4:55 p.m. ET.

"Our deputies responded and found multiple gunshot victims. We were able to quickly identify a potential subject from video footage," he said.

At 5:47 p.m. ET,  police responded to a robbery call at 1916 Piedmont Road, where they found three women shot. While investigating that incident, they received another call about an incident at 1907 Piedmont Road, where they found another women shot, another law enforcement official said.

"Both locations were massage parlors. At that time, we recognized that we had had information previously put out by Cherokee County that they had a similar incident in their jurisdiction," he said.

When police put the information about the suspect on social media, the suspect's family members got in touch.

"Shortly thereafter, we were contacted by members of a family, indicating that that may be their son. So we met with them. I was there speaking with the family. They're very distraught and they were very helpful in this apprehension," he added.

Law enforcement was then able to track the suspect's phone, anticipating his movements. Crisp County police intercepted him in coordination with state patrol.

"They initiated a traffic stop and then immediately pitted the vehicle. After the vehicle was pitted, the suspect was taken into custody without further incident and transported to the Crisp County jail," a state patrol official said. 

The suspect was interviewed by the Cherokee County police, Atlanta police and the FBI on Tuesday night and remains at Cherokee County adult detention center, Reynolds reported.


11:01 a.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Family of suspected shooter turned him in to authorities, sheriff says

From CNN’s Gregory Lemos


Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds told reporters that the family of suspected spa shooter Robert Aaron Long turned him into authorities Tuesday. 

During a Wednesday news conference Reynolds said once police responded to the scene of the shooting at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, they were able to identify a suspect through surveillance video and put the images on social media. 

“Shortly thereafter we were contacted by members of the family indicating that may be their son, so we met with them,” Reynolds said. 

Reynolds said he spoke to the family directly. 

“They were very distraught and they were very helpful in this apprehension,” he said. 

Reynolds said once they identified Long as a suspect, they were able to track his phone and anticipate his movements allowing for his eventual apprehension in Crisp County.  

Reynolds called the apprehension the result of a “coordinated effort” by the various departments and Georgia State Patrol. 

Reynolds said officers hit Long’s vehicle “to prevent a pursuit.”

10:57 a.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Biden says he will be talking about Atlanta shootings today

From CNN's Betsy Klein

Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images
Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said he will be addressing a multiple shooting incident in Atlanta later Wednesday. 

"I'll be talking about that in a minute – I'll be back out,” he told reporters over the roar of Marine One on the South Lawn as he returned from Delaware.

Eight people were shot dead at three metro Atlanta spas on Tuesday. Six were Asian women, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. 

Police have not yet offered a motive in the bloody attacks, but because of many of the victims' backgrounds, some public officials and organizations have raised concerns that ethnicity came into play. It comes amid an alarming spike in violence directed at the Asian American community in recent months.

It's unclear what time specifically Biden will be back to address this – the next item on his public schedule is a 1 p.m. ET bilateral meeting with the Irish Taoiseach. 

11:00 a.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Sheriff says shooting suspect "may have frequented" some of the targeted spas


Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said the 21-year-old suspect in custody "may have frequented" some of the spas.

Speaking at a news conference with other Georgia officials, Reynolds said:

"We were able to interview him with the Atlanta police department and the FBI. He made indicators that he has some issues, potentially sexual addiction, and may have frequented some of these places in the past."

However, the sheriff stressed that it is still early in the investigation and nothing can be ruled out at this point.

Police have not yet offered a motive in the shootings.

11:00 a.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Atlanta mayor says the suspect was on his way to Florida to possibly commit more attacks


Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said today that police determined the Atlanta spa shooting suspect was on his way to Florida "perhaps to carry out additional shootings."

She commended law enforcement for their coordination and quick response in apprehending the suspect.

"This could have been a significantly worse," Bottoms said.

"I can't express enough my gratitude for the coordination and the public as a whole should be grateful that this suspect was quickly apprehended because it is very likely that there would have been more victims on yesterday."


10:44 a.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Atlanta Police Chief says it's too early to determine if shootings were a hate crime


Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said investigators are not ready to say yet whether or not the shootings are being considered as a hate crime. "We are still early in this investigation, so we cannot make that determination at this moment," the chief said at a press conference today.

He continued: "Again, we are very early in this investigation. Even though we've made an arrest, there's still a lot more work to be done."

“I know that that's going to be a concern and that you're probably asking that of many of us, we're just not there, as of yet.”

The press conference is ongoing.


10:37 a.m. ET, March 17, 2021

NOW: Officials give an update on the Atlanta-area spa shootings


Atlanta Mayor mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant and other officials are now giving an update on Tuesday night's spa shootings in the Atlanta area.

Eight people – including six Asian women – were shot dead at three metro Atlanta spas. One suspect is in custody, authorities said. 

10:51 a.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Homeland Security secretary declines to comment on Atlanta-area shooting investigation

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said that he "won't comment on the tragedy" in the Atlanta are because it is under investigation, but he did say domestic violence extremism is the greatest threat of terrorism the US is facing.

"We are intensely focused the greatest threat we face in the homeland from the terrorist perspective, as I mentioned at the onset, and that is domestic violence extremism and that is violence that is motivated by different ideologies including ideologies of hate against particular social groups," Mayorkas said in response to a question by Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee during testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee.

Mayorkas said in his opening statement that "the most significant terrorist threat facing our nation comes from lone offenders and small groups of individuals who commit acts of violence."

He said added these ideologies are spread "by false narratives, conspiracy theories, and extremist rhetoric usually spread through social media and other online platforms."