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Police have not discussed a motive, but the shooting comes during a spate of anti-Asian violence

By Katie Campione
March 16, 2021 10:57 PM
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Georgia shooting
Credit: Brynn Anderson/AP/Shutterstock

Eight people were killed in shootings across three Atlanta-area massage parlors on Tuesday.

Atlanta police officers responded to a "business robbery in progress call" at Gold Spa massage parlor on Tuesday around 5:47 p.m. local time and found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds inside the establishment, Sgt. John Chafee of Atlanta Police Department's Public Affairs Unit tells PEOPLE in a statement.

While police were at the scene, they received reports that shots were being fired at another massage parlor, Fuji Spa, across the street. Upon arrival, they found another woman shot and killed inside, Chafee says.

"At this time, investigators are gathering information from both scenes to determine exactly what occurred," Chafee adds.

About an hour prior to those two shootings, five people were shot at a spa in Acworth, Ga., about 30 miles north of Atlanta in Cherokee County.

Two of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene, while three others were transported to the hospital for their injuries and two of them died, Cherokee County Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. Jay Baker told the AP.

Authorities have said six of the eight victims were Asian, the New York Times reports. The paper also reports that the South Korean Consulate in Atlanta reports four of the eight killed were ethnic Koreans.

Robert Aaron Long was arrested in connection with the Acworth shooting after being seen on surveillance footage pulling up to the spa around 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, minutes before the shooting, authorities told the AP. It is not known whether Long has been charged in connection with the incident.

On whether the Atlanta shootings and the Acworth shooting are related, Chafee says, "Video footage from our Video Integration Center places the Cherokee County suspect's vehicle in the area, around the time of our Piedmont Road shootings."

"That, along with video evidence viewed by investigators, suggests it is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County's, who is in custody," Chafee adds, before saying that "an investigator from APD is in Cherokee County and we are working closely with them to confirm with certainty our cases are related."

Georgia shooting
The scene in Atlanta Tuesday night
| Credit: Brynn Anderson/AP/Shutterstock

Chafee adds that since the shootings, "patrols have been increased in those areas."

Authorities have not identified a motive in any of the shootings, according to NBC News.

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"It does not appear that robbery or theft was a motive, but that's one of the things we're looking into," Baker told the outlet of the Acworth shooting. "We don't know what his motive was when he arrived or what motivated him to do something like this."

For more details on the deadly Atlanta shootings and its significance for the Asian-American community, listen below to the episode of PEOPLE Every Day.

Stop AAPI Hate, a national group that addresses anti-Asian hate in the U.S., reacted to the shootings earlier on Wednesday, writing, "The reported shootings of Asian American women on Tuesday in Atlanta is an unspeakable tragedy – for the families of the victims first and foremost, but also for the AAPI community — which has been reeling from high levels of racial discrimination."

"Few details have been released, including whether or not the shootings were related or motivated by hate," the organization added on Twitter. "But right now there is a great deal of fear and pain in the Asian American community that must be addressed."

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.