April 17, 2021

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Surveillance video shows suspect in Atlanta killings leaving spa where first shootings took place – USA TODAY

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Surveillance video released Friday shows the suspect in the Atlanta killings leaving the spa where the first shootings are believed to have taken place.

The video, obtained by the Associated Press, shows Robert Aaron Long leaving Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Georgia, 30 minutes north of Atlanta, and getting into his vehicle.

Four people were fatally shot at the location and another person wounded. Four others were killed at two other spa locations in the Atlanta area. Six of the victims killed were Asian women.

Other video footage, obtained by the Washington Post, indicates Long, 21, spent an hour outside Young’s before entering the spa. An hour and 12 minutes later, he is seen exiting the location and getting into his car before police arrive, the newspaper said.

More:Many Americans of color call for unity against white supremacy after Atlanta killings

More details about the suspect have been emerging. Records released to USA TODAY on Friday indicated that Long had been kicked out of his parents’ home the day before the shooting and was “emotional.”

Long had also been recently furloughed from his job at a trade show business due to COVID-19, the report said, and he had been disowned by his church.

Atlanta police said they had yet to determine a motive and that it was too soon to say whether the suspect “specifically targeted” victims. On Wednesday, police said that Long had indicated he committed the shootings because of a sex addiction. 

Police records showed that officers had targeted two of the spas numerous times over the last decade, appearing to contradict Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ statement this week that, aside from a minor potential theft, they had not been a police concern.

Federal investigators so far have not found evidence that clears the high bar for federal hate crime charges against Long, the Associated Press reports citing two law enforcement officials.

Nevertheless, experts have said the killings are inextricably connected to racism and hate. The shooting comes amid a recent spike in incidents of hate, discrimination and violence against Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic, fueled by racist rhetoric by politicians, said Stop AAPI Hate, a group that tracks such incidents.

The events Tuesday began late that afternoon, when authorities say Long first opened fire at Young’s before driving 30 miles into Atlanta and killing four more people at two businesses, Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa. Police believe he was headed to Florida, where he meant to target additional spas, when he was taken into custody about 150 miles south of Atlanta.

Those killed Tuesday were Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; Yong Ae Yue, 63; Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Daoyou Feng, 44; and Xiaojie Tan, 49, who owned Young’s. 

Reverberations from the incident are being felt throughout the country, especially among Asian Americans fearful of heading out amid the spike in anti-Asian incidents. In a report released this week before the Atlanta killings, Stop AAPI Hate said it recorded nearly 3,800 anti-Asian incidents – including harassment, discrimination and acts of violence – between mid-March 2020 and late February 2021.

“Be careful where you go,” wrote Kay Kim, a longtime Korean American resident of Savannah, Georgia, in a text to her children when she heard about the shooting. “It’s a scary world now.” 

The tragedy has prompted an outpouring of community support.  A march to honor the victims was planned early Saturday afternoon in Atlanta, while a GoFundMe campaign to help the family of one of the victims, a single mom of two, had raised nearly $2.3 million as of Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, in cities from Phoenix to Milwaukee to Philadelphia, communities have been gathering this week to publicly mourn the victims. Another series of candlelight vigils were expected to be held Friday evening, and a coalition called the Asian American Leaders Table had compiled a list of such events around the country, some planned this weekend or later this month.

In the wake of the shooting, many Asian Americans are left with a feeling of vulnerability, a feeling that increases each time someone of Asian descent is assaulted on the streets or killed.

Kay Kim, a longtime resident of Savannah who attends a local Asian church, said her whole congregation is scared. In conversation, she oscillates between feeling anxiety about the recent violent events, but also faith that the world is still beautiful.

“It’s senseless,” said Kim — a word she falls back on repeatedly.

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” she says. “It’s a beautiful America, a blessed country. We shouldn’t ruin it with these kinds of acts.” 

Contributing: Nancy Guan, Savannah Morning News; The Associated Press

Who were the victims?What we know about the 8 people killed in the Atlanta area spa shootings

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