Robert Aaron Long, 22, accused of killing eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, in shootings at three Atlanta-area massage businesses. (Crisp County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Robert Aaron Long, 22, accused of killing eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, in shootings at three Atlanta-area massage businesses. (Crisp County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Prosecutor plans to seek death penalty in Atlanta spa shootings

A man accused of killing 8 people, 6 of them women of Asian descent, in shootings at 3 Atlanta-area massage businesses was indicted Tuesday

A man accused of killing eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, in shootings at three Atlanta-area massage businesses was indicted Tuesday on murder charges by two separate grand juries, and one prosecutor filed notice that she’ll also seek hate crime charges and the death penalty.

A Fulton County grand jury indicted Robert Aaron Long, 22, in the March 16 slayings of Suncha Kim, 69; Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; and Yong Ae Yue, 63. A separate grand jury in Cherokee County indicted Long for a separate shooting there that resulted in the killings of Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Delaina Yaun, 33; and Paul Michels, 54.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis also filed notice that she intends to seek hate crime charges and the death penalty against Long, who is white. The hate crime charges are based on the actual or perceived race, national origin, sex and gender of the four women killed, the notice says.

There was no immediate filing in online court records in Cherokee County to indicate whether District Attorney Shannon Wallace intends to seek hate crimes charges or the death penalty.

Georgia’s new hate crimes law does not provide for a stand-alone hate crime. After a person is convicted of an underlying crime, a jury must determine whether it’s a hate crime, which carries an additional penalty.

The Fulton County indictment charges Long with four counts of murder, four counts of felony murder, five counts of assault with a deadly weapon, four counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and one count of domestic terrorism, according to online records.

The domestic terrorism charge says Long committed a series of illegal acts “which were interrelated by distinguishing characteristics, with the intent to cause serious bodily harm and to kill individuals and groups of individuals, and with the intent to intimidate the civilian population of this state and of its political subdivisions.”

Four of the aggravated assault charges have to do with the shootings of the four victims who died. For the fifth, the indictment says Long pointed a gun at another woman, causing her “reasonable apprehension of immediately receiving a violent injury.” Willis’ notice of intent to seek hate crimes charges says she was targeted based on her actual or perceived sex and gender.

The charges in the Cherokee County indictment are related to the shooting at a spa near suburban Woodstock in which four were killed and one person was wounded. The charges include four counts of malice murder and four counts felony murder.

Willis’ decision to seek the death penalty is a departure from her stance during her campaign to be district attorney last year.

During a candidate forum last year, Willis answered yes when asked: “Will you commit to refuse to seek the death penalty?”

The killings are eligible for the death penalty because each was committed while Long was in the act of committing another capital offense, namely the killings of the victims, Willis’ notice of intent says. Each killing was also “outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible, or inhuman in that it involved depravity of mind” and was committed during an act of domestic terrorism, the notice says.

Police have said Long shot and killed four people, three of them women and two of Asian descent, at Youngs Asian Massage near Woodstock just before 5 p.m. on March 16. He also shot and wounded a fifth person, investigators said.

He then drove about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south to Atlanta, where he shot and killed three women at Gold Spa before going across the the street to Aromatherapy Spa and fatally shooting another woman, police have said. All of the Atlanta victims were women of Asian descent.

After the shootings at the two Atlanta spas, Long got back into his car and headed south on the interstate, police said.

Long’s parents called authorities to help after recognizing their son in still images from security video that the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office posted on social media. They provided cellphone information that allowed authorities to track their son to rural Crisp County, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) south of Atlanta.

State troopers and sheriff’s deputies spotted his SUV on Interstate 75, and one of them forced Long to spin to a stop by bumping his vehicle. Long then surrendered to authorities.

In an initial interview with investigators, Long claimed to have a “sex addiction,” and authorities said he apparently lashed out at businesses he viewed as a temptation. But those statements spurred outrage and widespread skepticism given the locations and that six of the eight victims were women of Asian descent.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

ShootingUnited States

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported five additional deaths Wednesday due to COVID-19. (File photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer at 169 active cases of COVID-19

Province set to move into Stage 2 of reopening Thursday

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Most Read