September 18, 2021

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LIVE UPDATES: Spa shooting suspect speaks in court, admits guilt in Cherokee slayings – Atlanta Journal Constitution

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He was sitting in the car when he began thinking about killing the people inside, Long told the judge, adding he had frequented Youngs in the past. He described it as shifting the blame from himself to those inside the spa.

“I wanted to stop the places and basically punish the people that I could…,” Long told the judge. He loaded the 9 mm in his car outside the spa before making his way inside.

UPDATE [10:45 a.m.]: Long said the decision to kill himself March 16 at Youngs Asian Massage was born of shame. He told the judge he was “embarrassed and ashamed” when his roommate overheard him watching pornography in his room and asked him about it. Long refused to discuss it with him.

“It never felt like I had a lot of control over those urges and it became obsessive to the point it occupied a lot of thought space,” Long told the judge, adding his addition to porn “hurt a lot of relationships in my life and I still found myself going back to it.”

As he spoke, Long was even-tempered, clear and forthcoming. He did not appear to be emotional. Cherokee County Judge Ellen McElyea pressed him to articulate what he thinks is wrong about pornography.

“It’s taking something I believe to be meant for a monogamous relationship between a man and a woman and making sport of it without any relationship efforts in it,” Long said. “And essentially taking sex out of the context I believe to be only correct in a marriage relationship.”

[10:30 a.m.]: Robert Aaron Long stated before a Cherokee County judge his intent to enter a guilty plea, waiving his right to trial in order to avoid the possibility of death.

Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace said in court Tuesday she intended to seek the death penalty against Long, who was indicted on 23 counts in the Cherokee shootings alone. Long stood before Judge Ellen McElyea in a white collared shirt and gray slacks, shackled at the waist, and admitted guilt.

McElyea is now submitting questions directly to Long, asking him facts about the case. It is the first time he has spoken publicly about his involvement in the March 16 slayings.

ORIGINAL STORY: Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace is recommending four consecutive life sentences, plus 35 years to serve in confinement in the state’s penal system. Wallace said her office spoke at length with many of the victims’ families, and they are in agreement with the plea and the state’s recommendations.

In court Tuesday, several of the victims’ families wiped tears from their eyes as Wallace detailed the March 16 shootings that killed Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49, Daoyou Feng, 44, Delaina Yaun, 33, and Paul Michels, 54, inside Youngs Asian Massage. A fifth person, Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, was injured.

At the first location of the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings, Youngs Asian Massage Parlor in Cherokee County, five people were shot, leaving one injured and four dead. The four victims who died include, from left to right: Daoyou Feng, 44; Xiaojie "Emily" Tan, 49; Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; and Paul Andre Michels, 54.
Caption
At the first location of the 2021 Atlanta spa shootings, Youngs Asian Massage Parlor in Cherokee County, five people were shot, leaving one injured and four dead. The four victims who died include, from left to right: Daoyou Feng, 44; Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49; Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; and Paul Andre Michels, 54.

Credit: Family Photos

Credit: Family Photos

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p class=”story-text b-margin-bottom-d40-m20″>Wallace said Long went to the spa with the intention of killing himself after receiving a service. On the morning of the shootings, he watched pornography for nearly 3 hours, according to a friend who allowed Long to live with him. He then left for the spa, stopping to buy a handgun and a fifth of bourbon along the way, Wallace said.

It was while drinking alcohol in the parking lot of the spa, the district attorney said, that Long changed his plans and decided to kill those inside. After he received service, Wallace said Long came out of a bathroom and began shooting “anyone and everyone he saw.”

Tan, Feng, Yaun, Michels and Hernandez-Ortiz were shot as Long made his way from the back of the building to the front, Wallace said in court.

He then drove to Atlanta to continue the shooting spree at businesses he had frequented, according to Wallace. He is accused of killing three women at Gold Spa on Piedmont Avenue and another at Aromatherapy Spa across the street. All of the Atlanta victims, and two killed in Cherokee, were women of Asian descent.

ExploreSpa shootings: A timeline of events that left 8 dead in metro Atlanta

Following Long’s capture in Crisp County, about 150 miles south of Atlanta, Cherokee police said he blamed his actions on a sexual addiction that clashed with his strict religious upbringing. Investigators say he had been a patron at least two of the spas.

ExploreWhat we know about the spa shooting victims

A hearing is ongoing Tuesday, and a formal plea is imminent. Long’s sentence will be decided by a judge.

News of the plea deal first surfaced last Wednesday, when Willis told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution she had been informed the Cherokee case had been resolved. In the coming days, Long will be transferred to a Fulton jail. He’s scheduled to be arraigned in Atlanta on Aug. 23.

Willis said she believes hate crime charges are also warranted. Georgia’s hate crimes law went into effect in June and provides sentencing guidelines for anyone convicted of targeting a victim based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability or physical disability.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.

Staff writers Chelsea Prince, Shaddi Abusaid and Alexis Stevens contributed to this article.

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