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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9:47 a.m. ET, March 18, 2021

What we know about the metro Atlanta spa shootings 

From CNN's Amir Vera and Jason Hanna

At least eight people were found dead at three different spas in the Atlanta area Tuesday.

Police say video evidence led them to believe one suspect, Robert Aaron Long, was responsible for all three shootings. He was arrested Tuesday night about 150 miles south of Atlanta.

Here's what we know so far:

About the shootings: The first shooting happened shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday at Young's Asian Massage near Woodstock, Georgia, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Atlanta. That shooting left four dead. One person was also wounded, Cherokee County Sheriff's Office said. About an hour later, three people were found dead at the Gold Massage Spa on Piedmont Road in Atlanta, Police Chief Rodney Bryant said. One person was also found dead at the Aroma Therapy Spa, directly across the street.

The victims: Of those who died, six were Asian and two were White, Cherokee County sheriff's officials said in a joint news conference with Atlanta police on Wednesday. All six Asian victims were women, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported earlier, citing authorities.

The four killed in the shooting near Woodstock were Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, of Acworth; Paul Andre Michels, 54, of Atlanta; Xiaojie Tan, 49, of Kennesaw; and Daoyou Feng, 44.

The injured survivor was Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, of Acworth, authorities said.

Police didn't immediately release the names of the four people killed at the two Atlanta spas. Four of those killed were of Korean ethnicity, according to South Korea's foreign ministry, which said it was in contact with its consulate in Atlanta.

The arrest: Cherokee County investigators found surveillance video of a suspect near the first scene and published it on social media. Long's family saw the image and helped authorities identify him, Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said Wednesday.

Investigators tracked Long's phone, and Reynolds reached out to authorities in Crisp County, well to the south, to let them know he appeared to be heading in that direction, Reynolds said. Long's vehicle was spotted, a chase ensued on Interstate 75 in Crisp County, and a state trooper performed a maneuver that sent the SUV out of control, authorities said. Police arrested Long and confiscated a 9 mm gun from his vehicle, Cherokee County authorities said.

The suspect's intentions: Preliminary information indicates the shootings could relate to the suspect's claim of a potential sex addiction, Cherokee County authorities said Wednesday. Long told investigators he saw the spas as a temptation that he wanted to eliminate, they said. Still, it was too early to know a motive, Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said at a joint news conference with Cherokee County sheriff's officials.

Long has claimed responsibility for the shootings in Cherokee County and in Atlanta, the Cherokee County sheriff's office said. Long told investigators the killings were not racially motivated, the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office said in a news release. He was being held Wednesday in Cherokee County on four counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault, the sheriff's office said. He is also facing four counts of murder in Atlanta, according to city police.

He was headed to Florida: Before he was stopped, Long was headed to Florida "perhaps to carry out additional shootings," Bottoms, the Atlanta mayor, said Wednesday, citing investigators. "It's very likely there would have been more victims," Bottoms said. Long told investigators he was headed to Florida and was "going to do more acts" there, Cherokee County Sheriff's Capt. Jay Baker said Wednesday.

Community on edge: Because of the victims' backgrounds, some public officials had raised fears before Wednesday's police news conference that ethnicity had come into play, amid rising concerns nationwide about anti-Asian violence during the coronavirus pandemic.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, acknowledging most of the victims were Asian, said Wednesday that "we know (violence against Asian Americans) is an issue that's happening around the country; it is unacceptable, it is hateful, and it has to stop."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly spelled Xiaojie Tan's name.

7:24 p.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Atlanta mayor says suspect in spa shootings should face "the stiffest most appropriate charges"

From CNN’s Kelsie Smith


Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday the man suspected of killing eight people at three Atlanta-area spas should face “the stiffest most appropriate charges.” 

During the interview on the "Situation Room," Blitzer asked the mayor whether these killings should be prosecuted as hate crimes, noting Georgia’s hate crime law does include victims targeted based on sex.

“I think whatever the stiffest most appropriate charges there are, this guy should face those charges,” said Bottoms. “In Georgia, you can be charged with a hate crime. It covers a variety of areas and I personally think it would be appropriate, but I will defer to the prosecutors to make that determination.”

Bottoms said the city is grateful to law enforcement that the suspected shooter, Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Georgia, was apprehended quickly and the violence was not carried out to other states. Although the suspect claims the shootings were not racially motivated, Bottoms said it’s difficult to ignore that Asian community has been targeted. 

“This is a man who murdered, eight people in cold blood, so it's very difficult to believe what he says,” said Bottoms. “It's difficult to ignore the fact that many of the victims were Asian, all of the victims in Atlanta were Asian, in fact, and that he targeted these Asian massage parlors.”

Bottoms said it is important that people stand in solidarity with the Asian American community at this time. “They are being targeted unfairly and in Atlanta, what we've seen the worst has happened,” she said.


5:30 p.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Spa shooting suspect purchased gun at store in Holly Springs, Georgia

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch and Matt Gannon

The suspect in the spa shootings where eight were killed in metro-Atlanta purchased his gun legally at a local gun store, Big Woods Goods in Holly Springs, Georgia, an attorney for the company confirmed to CNN.

In a brief statement to CNN, Matt Kilgo said the company is fully cooperating with law enforcement and there is no indication that there was anything improper with the transfer yesterday.

The suspect, Robert Aaron Long, has been charged with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault in Cherokee County and four counts of murder in Fulton County.

Eight people died and one person was injured in the shootings on Tuesday.

Long remains in custody in Cherokee County.


5:25 p.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Suspect faces multiple murder charges following spa shootings

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

The Atlanta Police Department's Homicide Unit has charged Robert Long, the 21 year-old accused of killing several people in Georgia, with four counts of murder.

These are in addition to earlier charges from the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office that include “four counts of Murder and one count of Aggravated Assault and has no bond,” the CCSO said in a Wednesday statement.

In total, Long faces eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault for the incidents. 

He is currently detained at the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center and it is anticipated that he will face a judge tomorrow.

Eight people – including six Asian women – were shot dead at three metro Atlanta spas Tuesday evening.

Police have not yet offered a motive in the shootings saying it's too early in the investigation to determine if they were a hate crime. 

4:17 p.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Biden asks White House officials to conduct listening sessions in wake of Atlanta-area shooting

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Erin Scott/The New York Times/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Erin Scott/The New York Times/Bloomberg/Getty Images

President Biden has asked domestic policy adviser Susan Rice and White House public engagement director and senior adviser Cedric Richmond to conduct community listening sessions in the wake of the Atlanta-area shooting that left eight people dead, including six Asian women.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the President made the request “so that we can hear from the community and determine how that should impact policies moving forward.” 

Psaki pointed to the memorandum Biden signed in January to combat racism against Asian Americans in the United States. 

“He did sign an executive order, and actually there are ongoing processes, including from the Department of Justice, where they're doing listening sessions now, HHS will start those soon,” Psaki said at a briefing Wednesday.  

“There's also an ongoing review of domestic violent extremism that is wide-ranging, that is a 100 day review that will take a look at a range of issues and that will also be a longer-term, strategic, comprehensive look at how that impacts our society and this will certainly be a part of that,” Psaki added.


3:59 p.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Shooting suspect purchased the gun this week, law enforcement sources say

From CNN’s Josh Campbell, Ryan Young, Casey Tolan and Amanda Watts 

Cherokee County Sheriff's Office
Cherokee County Sheriff's Office

Investigators believe the gunman accused of shooting and killing several people at three different spas in the Atlanta area Tuesday purchased the weapon he used in the attack this week, law enforcement sources tell CNN.  

One of the sources said nothing in suspect Robert Aaron Long’s background would have prevented the purchase.

Long is accused of shooting and killing several people at three different spas in the Atlanta area Tuesday, according to authorities. 

During a Wednesday news conference, Sheriff Frank Reynolds, Cherokee County Sheriff's Office said Long “made indicators that he has some issues, potentially, sexual addiction, and may have frequented some of these places in the past.” 

Reynolds told reporters that the family of Long turned him in to authorities on Tuesday.

A law enforcement source said the suspect was recently kicked out of the house by his family due to his sexual addiction, which, the source said, included frequently spending hours on end watching pornography online.

According to an incident report from CCSO, a 911 caller said the suspect could possibly be his son and “does have a tracker on his phone.” Another anonymous caller to 911 told dispatch the suspect was “kicked out of his parents' house last night,” adding that he “was emotional,” the incident report says. 

Long, 21, has been charged with, “four counts of Murder and one count of Aggravated Assault and has no bond,” the CCSO said in a Wednesday statement. He is currently detained at the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center. He could face separate charges for the shootings he’s suspected of committing in Atlanta, but authorities there have not charged him yet. 

According to two law enforcement sources involved in the investigation, Long attempted to justify his actions when he told police he thought about killing himself, but decided instead to "help" others with sexual addictions by targeting spas.

One of the sources tells CNN, the suspect is on suicide watch and was wearing a vest intended to protect him from self-harm in the mug shot. 

FBI agents from the bureau's Atlanta field office civil rights team continue to investigate whether race was a factor in the murders, one of the sources said.

2:34 p.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Shootings are a reminder to protect "most vulnerable," Georgia official says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

After eight people — six of whom were Asian women — were killed in shootings at Atlanta-area spas, Georgia State Rep. Sam Park said it serves as a reminder to “protect the most vulnerable among us.”

“There's been a lot of concern with the Asian American community, particularly given the surge in violence and discrimination we’ve seen over this past year, a lot of it being driven by racist political rhetoric. … Regardless of the motivation, given the concerns the community already has, in light of all the attacks we have seen — particularly against Asian American women and the elderly — I think it’s a reminder in which we need to do everything we possibly can to protect the most vulnerable among us,” Park told CNN's Brianna Keilar.

Police have not yet offered a motive in the shootings saying it's too early in the investigation to determine if they were a hate crime. 

Park recommended that people contact their local leaders if they feel unsafe or threatened. 

“Make your voice heard. Reach out to your community members, reach out to elected officials, law enforcement. And raise those concerns so that we can do as much as we can to provide support,” he said. 

2:16 p.m. ET, March 17, 2021

First lady to Atlanta shooting victims' families: "My heart is with you"

From CNN's DJ Judd

Susan Walsh/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
Susan Walsh/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

First lady Jill Biden addressed shootings in Georgia this afternoon during remarks at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School in Concord, New Hampshire.

“I want to start by saying something directly to the families of the shooting victims in Atlanta last night,” Biden said Wednesday. “My heart is with you. And I hope that all Americans will join me in praying for everyone touched by this senseless tragedy.”

Eight people were killed Tuesday during a shooting spree across three metro Atlanta spas on Tuesday, including six Asian women, officials say.

Local police have yet to definitively offer a motive in the Tuesday spree, but because of many of the victims' backgrounds, some public officials and organizations have raised concerns that ethnicity came into play.

It comes following an alarming spike in violence directed at the Asian American community in recent months.

1:55 p.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Georgia attorney: Asian communities "in shock" and "outraged" following fatal shooting

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Attorney Christopher Chan, advisory chair of the Asian American Action Fund Georgia Chapter, said the Atlanta shootings is of high concern “because it's such a high-profile event that has occurred against our community.”

Chan told CNN’s Brianna Keilar that Asian communities in Georgia are “in shock” and “outraged" following the fatal shooting rampage that left six Asian women dead.

“We want attention drawn to this rising epidemic of hate crime, of crimes being committed against Asian Americans. We want a stronger police presence if not attention to those crimes that are being perpetrated against our community. And we actually welcome our Black and Latinx community leaders to stand with us in this call for increased attention to these crimes being committed against the Asian American community,” Chan said.

Chan told Keilar that steps like Congress passing the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act could help “strengthen the reportings around alleged hate crimes against Asian Americans.”

He added, “It would also set into place some Department of Justice procedures as well as coordination among state and local law enforcement as to the language being used to describe Covid-19, particularly getting rid of and correcting descriptions as to how Covid-19 is being described in the news and media."

Police have yet to report a motive in the attack.