Suspect in Atlanta-area killings was planning to go to Florida, authorities say

A white gunman accused of killing eight people, most of them of women of Asian descent, at three Atlanta-area massage parlors was planning to go to Florida, authorities said Wednesday.

Robert Aaron Long, 21, was charged Wednesday with murder in an attack that sent terror through the Asian American community that’s increasingly been targeted during the coronavirus pandemic.

Long told police that Tuesday’s attack was not racially motivated and claimed to have a “sex addiction,” with authorities saying he apparently lashed out at what he saw as sources of temptation. His parents called police after authorities posted his photo, helping lead to his capture.

Six of the victims were of Asian descent and seven were women.

News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson, a former sex crimes investigator, said he’s never seen anything like this case.

“I came across all types of cases. None as bizarre as this,” Jefferson said.

The shootings appear to be at the “intersection of gender-based violence, misogyny and xenophobia,” Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen said, the first Vietnamese American to serve in the Georgia House and a frequent advocate for women and communities of color.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said that regardless of the shooter’s motivation, “it is unacceptable, it is hateful and it has to stop.”