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Asian Americans React to Atlanta Spa Shootings; Alleged Gunman Robert Aaron Long Arrested

Robert Aaron Long is seen in a mugshot. Long is accused in the Atlanta spa shootings
Robert Aaron Long is seen in a mugshot.

Robert Aaron Long, a self-identified Christian, has been arrested for allegedly killing eight people at two spas in Georgia.

Six of the victims were Asian women. Their deaths were being tied to an explosion of racist violence against Asian Americans. So far, four of the women have been identified as being of Korean descent.

CNN has identified some of the victims as:

Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, of Acworth; Paul Andre Michels, 54, of Atlanta; Xiaojie Yan, 49, of Kennesaw; and Daoyou Feng, 44. Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, of Acworth, was listed as an “injured survivor” of the shooting.

Long took responsibility for the Atlanta spa shootings but denied his motives were racist, according to Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office.

“During his interview, he gave no indicators that this was racially motivated,” Sheriff Frank Reynolds said. “We asked him that specifically and the answer was no.”

Instead, Long pointed to an alleged sex addiction, which he reportedly blamed on the businesses. As law enforcement put it, Long was “at the end of his rope” and allegedly decided to “eliminate” the “temptation.”

“Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did,” the sheriff’s community relations lead Capt. Jay Baker told reporters. Baker, who raised brows with his characterization of the gunman’s killing rampage, also came under fire for reportedly promoting racist anti-Chinese shirts on his Facebook page.

Witness testimony contradicts Long’s denial of race being a factor in his alleged crimes. A witness to one of the shootings reportedly told a local Korean publication that he heard the gunman say “I’m going to kill all Asians.”

The spike in anti-Asian violence emerged under former President Donald Trump’s time in the White House. Despite outcry, Trump was adamant about using disparaging terms like “China virus” and “kung flu” when referencing the coronavirus (COVID-19).

In the past year, nearly 3,800 discriminatory incidents against Asians have been reported, according to Stop AAPI Hate. The rise in such crimes prompted one group of Christians to form the Asian American Christian Collaborative. The Asian American Christian Collaborative put out a statement last year condemning anti-Asian racism.

Asian Americans were reeling with shock, anger, and grief as details of the Atlanta spa shootings continued to unfold Wednesday, March 17. Many used the tags #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate as they spoke out on social platforms like Twitter.

Below, we highlight some of their responses.


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