Robert Aaron Long, 21, admitted to the murders in a plea deal in Cherokee County, Ga.

Young's Asian Massage
Young's Asian Massage
| Credit: ERIK S LESSER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A mass shooter accused of eight murders at three Atlanta-area spas in which a majority of his victims were Asian pled guilty Tuesday to four of those killings.

Robert Aaron Long, 22, admitted to those four murders in a plea deal in Cherokee County, reports ABC News. He still faces charges in a separate county related to the additional four victims.

Cherokee County prosecutors recommended that Long be sentenced to life without parole for the four killings that occurred in their county on March 16 inside Young's Asian Massage outside Acworth, Ga, reports NBC News.

His victims on that day included Xiaojie Tan, 49, and Daoyou Feng, 44, both of whom worked at the spa; customer Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; and Paul Andre Michels, 54, a contractor who was on site working at the business.

Upon his arrest, Long allegedly confessed to the slayings and told police he had a sexual addiction, authorities announced at a March press conference.

At the time, Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds, speaking about Long, said, "He made indicators that he has some issues, potentially sexual addiction, and may have frequented some of these places in the past."

Reynolds said possible racial animus toward the victims, six of whom were Asian women, "did not appear to be the motive," instead describing the victims as "targets of opportunity."

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In court Tuesday, Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace shared that the defense team holds a similar position.

"All of the evidence that was gathered with regard to Cherokee County, your honor, came to the same conclusion, that this crime was not motivated by a bias or hate against Asian Americans," Wallace said.

Authorities earlier alleged that Long told them he planned to travel to Florida to kill more people had he not been arrested.

Authorities said Long's family recognized him from security footage released through the media in the aftermath of the shootings and worked with authorities to help apprehend him.

Authorities said Long bought the gun used in the attacks just hours before the first shooting.

The charges still facing Long involve the shooting in Fulton County at Gold Spa, where three women were killed, and across the street at Fuji Spa, where one woman died. According to ABC News, the 19-count Fulton County indictment accuses Long of murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and domestic terrorism.

The attack occurred amid a nationwide rise in violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Asian-American hate crimes in major cities rose by 150% in 2020 over the previous year, according to a recent report issued by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. 

Another study published in mid-March by the University of California, San Francisco showed that the amount of racist tweets skyrocketed after instances when former President Donald Trump would use racist terminology on Twitter to describe the COVID-19 pandemic.