A murderous run of several hours and still many questions. On Wednesday, Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old American, admitted to being the author of three shootings that left eight people dead in massage parlors in the Atlanta area the day before. He has already been charged with four murders and additional charges were expected today.
In the context of a sharp increase in attacks against the Asian community in the United States since the coronavirus pandemic, he assured the authorities that his attacks had no “racist motive”. Long, who grew up in a very religious environment, spoke of his addiction to sex and his desire to target “places of temptation”.
“No racist motive”
Six of the eight victims are women of Asian descent. Did Robert Aaron Long specifically target this community? “The investigation is only just beginning,” replied Rodney Bryant, the acting chief of the Atlanta police force, who declined to clarify whether the trail of “hate” crimes was considered. Robert Aaron Long, who confessed Tuesday night, assured investigators that there was no “racist motive” behind his attack. Facebook confirmed on Wednesday that a screenshot billed as an anti-Asian post of the suspect circulating online was a montage.
“Sex addiction” and “places of temptation”
“He insinuated that he had problems with potential sex addiction, and may have frequented several of these places in the past,” local authorities said. According to them, Robert Aaron Long considered these massage parlors as “places of temptation that he wanted to eliminate”. He was arrested 250 km further south on his way to neighboring Florida “possibly to carry out other attacks,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. A weapon was found in his vehicle.
« Guns, family, God »
Authorities say Robert Aaron Long held a hunting license and legally purchased the weapon used in his attacks shortly before he took action. A former high school classmate described him to The Daily Beast as a “very religious” student with a “pastor or youth leader” father who did not appear to be “violent”. On a private Instagram profile that belonged to him, according to the Daily Beast, he listed “guns, family and God” in his bio.
Crabapple Baptist Church deleted (or private) a video of Atlanta shooting suspect Robert Aaron Long in which he spoke of his second baptism in 2018 https://t.co/Y1X5iRMqSU pic.twitter.com/UzCRaYBQrY
– Philippe Berry (@ptiberry) March 17, 2021
The Crabapple Baptist Church he attended removed a 2018 video in which he discussed his second baptism and the parable of the prodigal son. Congregation officials responded in a statement sent to Newsweek: “We are saddened by these tragic deaths. We pray for the victims and their families […] and also for the Long family. “