Authorities say the suspect, Robert Aaron Long, confessed to the spate of shootings that killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women

By Chris Harris and Greg Hanlon
March 17, 2021 11:19 AM
Advertisement
Georgia shooting
Credit: Brynn Anderson/AP/Shutterstock

The man accused of killing eight people at three Atlanta-area spas on Tuesday allegedly confessed to the slayings and told police he has a sexual addiction, authorities announced at a Wednesday press conference.

Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds, speaking about suspect Robert Aaron Long, 21, 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."

Cherokee County Sheriff's Capt. Jay Baker, echoing Reynolds' assertion about the suspect's alleged sex addiction, said he saw the spas as "a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate."

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

Robert Aaron Long
Robert Aaron Long
| Credit: CRISP COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE/HANDOUT/Shutterstock

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

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

He will be arraigned Thursday morning. It was not immediately clear if he has been formally charged yet.

The deadly shootings took place in three Asian massage parlors.

Shortly after 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Atlanta Police responded to a "business robbery in progress call" at Gold Spa massage parlor. They arrived to find three women dead inside, all from apparent gunshot wounds, Atlanta Police Sgt. John Chafee told PEOPLE in a statement.

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.

As they were investigating the scene at Gold Spa, someone inside an establishment across the street, Fuji Spa, called 911 to report gunfire. Officers found another woman shot and killed inside, Chafee said.

An hour earlier, police say five people were shot at Young's Asian Massage outside Acworth, Ga.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

Two of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene; three others were rushed to a nearby hospital, where two died.

Long, of Woodstock, Ga., was arrested Tuesday evening after a police pursuit.

Surveillance footage allegedly shows Long at the scene of the first shooting, and police believe all three shootings are related. The attacks prompted authorities in other large cities to issue warnings to similar businesses.

Attacks on and racism against Asian Americans has been on the rise in recent months.

According to a recent Harris poll, 75 percent of Asian Americans are fearful of increased hate and discrimination toward them.