Georgia spa killings: Police up patrols in Asian American communities from NY to Chicago

The killings come amid a rise in anti-Asian American hate crimes.

March 18, 2021, 9:40 AM

After a gunman killed eight people -- the majority of whom were women of Asian descent -- at three spas in the Atlanta area, police across the U.S. say they are increasing patrols in Asian American communities.

When the suspect, 21-year-old Robert Long, was taken into custody hours after the Tuesday shootings, he allegedly admitted to the killings, which spanned from Cherokee County, Georgia, to Atlanta, the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office said.

PHOTO: Law enforcement officials gather outside a spa following a shooting, March 16, 2021, in Atlanta.
Law enforcement officials gather outside a spa following a shooting, March 16, 2021, in Atlanta.
Brynn Anderson/AP
PHOTO: People with the medical examiner's office wheel out a body on a stretcher from a spa where three people were shot and killed on March 16, 2021, in Atlanta.
People with the medical examiner's office wheel out a body on a stretcher from a spa where three people were shot and killed on March 16, 2021, in Atlanta. Eight people were killed in shootings at three different spas in the state of Georgia and a 21-year-old male suspect was in custody.
Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images

"Long told investigators that he blames the massage parlors for providing an outlet for his addiction to sex," the sheriff's office said in a statement on Wednesday. "Long told investigators the crimes were not racially motivated."

The Atlanta police said Wednesday, "Our investigation is far from over and we have not ruled anything out."

The killings come amid a rise in anti-Asian American hate crimes.

PHOTO: Activists participate in a vigil in response to the Atlanta spa shootings in which eight people were killed, March 17, 2021, in the Chinatown area of Washington, D.C.
Activists participate in a vigil in response to the Atlanta spa shootings in which eight people were killed, March 17, 2021, in the Chinatown area of Washington, D.C.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

In New York City, the police department said Tuesday night that it will deploy "assets to our great Asian communities across the city out of an abundance of caution."

PHOTO: Officers from the New York Police Department Community Affairs Rapid Response Team speak with Justin Yu, president of the Chinese Community Center on Mott Street, in the Chinatown section of Manhattan, March 17, 2021.
Officers from the New York Police Department Community Affairs Rapid Response Team speak with Justin Yu, president of the Chinese Community Center on Mott Street, in the Chinatown section of Manhattan, New York following the deadly shootings at three Georgia spas, March 17, 2021.
Mike Segar/Reuters
PHOTO: Members of the New York Police Department Community Affairs Rapid Response Team patrol through the Chinatown section of Manhattan, New York following the deadly shooting at three Georgia spas, March 17, 2021.
Members of the New York Police Department Community Affairs Rapid Response Team patrol through the Chinatown section of Manhattan, New York following the deadly shooting at three Georgia spas, March 17, 2021.
Mike Segar/Reuters

In Chicago, "presence and patrols" will be upped in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, Police Superintendent David Brown said Wednesday.

"Our district commanders are working with local community leaders, advocates and business owners throughout Chicago's Asian American & Pacific Islander community to reinforce our commitment to protecting the lives, rights, and property of all people in Chicago," Brown said.

Atlanta police said Wednesday that officers were sent to nearby spas "and patrols have been increased in those areas."

In the Atlanta suburb of Lawrenceville, the police department said Wednesday that it's providing "extra patrols in and around Asian businesses, particularly spas" in the wake of the shootings.

"Although there are no known threats at this time, these patrols will continue for the foreseeable future for the safety and comfort of the community," police said.

The reporting forum Stop AAPI Hate said in a statement Tuesday, "The reported shootings of multiple Asian American women today in Atlanta is an unspeakable tragedy -- for the families of the victims first and foremost, but also for the Asian American community, which has been reeling from high levels of racist attacks over the course of the past year. Few details about these shootings have been released, including whether or not they were motivated by hate."

"Not enough has been done to protect Asian Americans from heightened levels of hate, discrimination and violence," the statement continued. "Concrete action must be taken now. Anything else is unacceptable. As further details of this tragedy unfold, our hearts go out to the loved ones of the victims and to the Asian American community in Atlanta."

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