Law enforcement searches for motive in spa shootings as families process their grief

ATLANTA — One week after the deadly spa shootings, families of the victims are in the process of laying their loved ones to rest.

This week, a memorial service is scheduled for Yong Ae Yue. The 63-year-old was a grandmother of six.

While family members are mourning, investigators in Cherokee County and Atlanta are working to find a motive.

Authorities have not released any additional information since last week’s news conference.

To put the case into context, Channel 2′s Cobb County Bureau Chief Chris Jose spoke to former assistant United States Attorney Bret Williams. Williams is not involved in the prosecution or defense of the gunman.

“Is this a potential death penalty case?” Jose asked.

“It is a potential death penalty case,” Williams said.

Last week, authorities said Robert Long confessed to the murders of eight people, including six women of Asian descent.

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“If it turns out his actions were particularly evil, or particularly heinous, then I think the death penalty is in play,” Williams said.

Williams pointed out that specific information about what occurred inside the spas before and during the shootings will play a factor.

“Had he frequented that location before? Did he know a particular person at that location? For instance, was this a crime related to a person he was upset with, and he went and shot up the place and killed other people while trying to target that person?” Williams asked.

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said Long told investigators that the shootings were not racially motivated. Rather, he was eliminating his sexual addition.

“The fact that someone tells you something doesn’t make it true,” Williams said.

Atlanta police said they are not ruling out the possibility the spa shootings are a hate crime.

In Georgia, Williams said a hate crime is considered a penalty enhancement of up to two years. He said told Jose that the U.S. Justice Department can pursue charges.

“The feds can pursue the hate crime charge anytime they please. They can do it now,” Williams said.