March 18, 2021 09:53
Eight people of mostly Asian descent were killed and another wounded in a shooting rampage at three massage parlors in Atlanta, Georgia on Tuesday afternoon.
"Four of the people who were shot dead were women of Korean descent," the Foreign Ministry here said.
Police arrested a 21-year-old white man identified as Robert Aaron Long and are trying to discover his motive.
The first shooting occurred at Young's Asian Massage run by a Chinese American in Cherokee County on the outskirts of Atlanta around 5 p.m. Tuesday. Five people were shot and two of them died on the spot. Two of the others died on the way to a hospital.
Two were women of Chinese descent, a third was a white man, and the other a white woman, according to Cherokee County police.
Around 5:47 p.m., less than an hour after the first shooting, another shooting took place at Gold Massage Spa in downtown Atlanta, leaving three women dead. A third shooting at Aroma Therapy Spa across the street killed another woman.
The owners of these two massage parlors were of Korean descent, as were the four victims, local media reported.
The suspect was caught in Crisp County about 240 km south from Atlanta around 8:30 p.m. after a chase. Long lives in Woodstock, a small town near Acworth.
Investigators believe he had no accomplice. Long told police there was no racial motive to his crime and that he had a "sex addiction," and local media said he had no history of far-right sympathies.
A rise in hate crimes against Asians has become a problem in the U.S. since the coronavirus epidemic started.
According to a report by Stop AAPI Hate (Hate against Asian American Pacific Islander communities), a total of 3,800 hate incidents against Asians, or a daily average of 11, were reported from March 19 last year until February this year. More than 500 have been reported since early this year alone.
"The number of hate incidents reported to our center represent only a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur," the group said in a statement. "It does show how vulnerable Asian Americans are to discrimination."
The overall hate crime rate dropped by about seven percent in 16 major American cities last year, but crimes against Asians soared a whopping 149 percent, according to a survey by California State University at San Bernardino.
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