Eight dead after Georgia massage parlour shootings

Robert Aaron Long: Parents of accused Atlanta gunman used tracker on his car to help police catch him

Police said without the tracker it may have taken much longer to apprehend the alleged shooter

Graig Graziosi
Thursday 18 March 2021 03:03
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The parents of the man accused of shooting and killing eight people at massage parlours near Atlanta helped police identify their son and track him down.

Robert Aaron Long, 21, has been charged with multiple counts of murder after allegedly shooting and killing eight people - primarily Asian women - at three massage parlours he reportedly frequented in Georgia.

His parents, upon seeing his photo in surveillance video shared by police, turned him in, and helped police find him using a tracker that had been placed in his car.

Georgia Police captain Jay Baker said he was unsure of the reason for the tracker, or if Mr Long was aware he was being tracked.

Police used the tracker to stop the gunman in Crisp County, about 240 km (150 miles) south of Atlanta. He was apparently headed to Florida to continue his shooting spree.

Atlanta mayor Keisha Bottoms said that stopping him relatively soon after the shootings occurred may have prevented further attacks.

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“This could’ve been significantly worse,” Ms Bottoms said. “It’s very likely there would’ve been more victims.”

Mr Baker said Mr Long was headed to Florida because it was a hub for the porn industry and an “outlet for something he shouldn’t be doing”.

Officers say he told them he had had a “very bad day” and that his shooting was a result of him being “at the end of his rope” and “fed up”.

Police said Mr Long claimed that race was not a motivating factor in the attack. However, all but two of the shooter’s victims were Asian women, and the police statement was met with criticism on social media from racial justice advocates.

Mr Baker said “nothing was going to be ruled out” and that investigators were still examining the motive.

Law enforcement anticipated that Mr Long would flee south, and arranged with deputies in Crisp County to intercept his vehicle.

With the help of the tracking device and images of Long’s vehicle captured on surveillance cameras, deputies were able to block the car and take Mr Long into custody.

A 9mm handgun was found in the car, and he was arrested without incident.

Mr Baker said that without the aid of the tracker and the parents’ help identifying Mr Long, he may not have been apprehended until much later.

A report from The Daily Beast shed light on the suspect. A classmate who spoke with the paper on the condition of anonymity said Mr Long was a “nerdy” and “religious” kid and believed he was the child of a pastor.

On his now deactivated Instagram account, Mr Long posted about his love of God and guns.

“Pizza, guns, drums, music, family, and God. This pretty much sums up my life. It’s a pretty good life,” he wrote in a caption.

It is unclear whether the shooting was directly motivated by his religious beliefs. Mr Baker said Mr Long told investigators that he had “some issues” including sexual addiction that prompted the attack.

Mr Baker said Mr Long conveyed that he wanted to eliminate the “temptation” of the massage parlors.

Reporters asked if the businesses were offering illegal sexual services, but Ms Bottoms said the city had no indication that they were, and said they were not going to engage in “victim blaming”.

Four of the eight individuals killed were of Korean descent, according to South Korea’s foreign ministry.

Race-motivated attacks against people with Asian heritage have increased in recent years, according to Stop AAPI Hate. Nearly 3,800 attacks - disproportionately aimed at women - have occurred over the last year.

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