A Georgia sheriff’s spokesperson who came under fire Wednesday for statements he made about the suspect in the Atlanta-area spa shootings, which killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, previously shared an anti-Asian post on Facebook.
At a news conference Wednesday, Capt. Jay Baker, a spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, said that Robert Aaron Long, who has been charged with eight counts of murder, “was pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope” and that Tuesday “was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.”
The comments were criticized as inappropriate and insensitive to the victims.
Baker said Long told investigators that the attacks were not racially motivated. “He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places, and it’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” Baker told reporters.
After the remarks, screenshots surfaced from a March 2020 Facebook post by Baker that promoted anti-Asian T-shirts.
“Place your order while they last,” Baker wrote above the photo of two T-shirts that said, “Covid 19 IMPORTED VIRUS FROM CHY-NA.”
Baker did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday, and the Facebook page appears to no longer be available.
Data published Tuesday reported that nearly 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents were reported in the last year. Women reported hate incidents 2.3 times more than men, according to the research by the reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate.
“Beyond processing evidence from the scenes, investigators are taking a hard look at what motivated the shooter. Our investigation is far from over and we have not ruled anything out,” the Atlanta Police Department said in a statement Wednesday night.
Authorities said that the shootings might not have been racially motivated and that the suspect told investigators that he had a sexual addiction and may have frequented some of the locations in the past.
It was unclear whether any of the businesses had any ties to sex work.