ATLANTA — Atlanta police say they are not taking anything off the table as they investigate a motive for the deadly spa shootings.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, is the main suspect in three shootings at Young’s Asian Spa in Cherokee County and Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa off Piedmont Road on Tuesday.
During a news conference on Thursday, Atlanta police stressed their investigation is separate from the Cherokee County sheriff’s investigation and that investigators are still working to figure out the motive and if this was a hate crime or not.
“We are not done. In most cases of homicides we don’t have a quick apprehension. They’re usually a lengthy investigation, especially where it’s involving multiple victims,” Deputy Chief Charles Hampton Jr. said. “So again we’re still working very diligently to ascertain all the facts, so we can have a successful prosecution because that’s what’s most important now.”
Long admitted to killing eight people and injuring another person at three different Asian spas. Six of the victims were Asian women.
Several leaders of Asian organizations in metro Atlanta have criticized law enforcement for not calling the killings a hate crime.
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said Long claimed the shootings were not racially motivated and that he targeted the businesses because he had “issues” with sexual addiction.
Atlanta police are separating themselves from that statement.
“Our investigation is separate from the Cherokee County investigation and our investigation is slightly different,” Hampton said.
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In Gwinnett County, leaders in the Asian-American and Pacific-Islander community held a meeting to figure out more ways to stop Asian hate.
“They tried to spin this tragedy and unfortunate act. They’re attempting to protect the shooter & portray him as misguided,” one leader said.
The Atlanta Police Department has charged Long with four counts of murder. The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office has charged charged with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.
The Cherokee County victims have been identified while the Atlanta victim names are still unknown. Atlanta police said they are working with Korean officials to notify the victims families.