Eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, have been shot dead in a series of attacks on sun spas in and around Atlanta, and a man suspected of conducting the hunt has been arrested in southern Georgia. , police said.
Although authorities refused to offer a motive for the violence, the attacks prompted the New York Police Department’s counter-terrorism unit to announce the addition of additional patrols to Asian communities there as a precaution. .
South Korea’s foreign ministry said its consul-general in Atlanta confirmed that the victims included four women of Korean descent but confirming their nationality.
The bloodshed began around 5 p.m. Tuesday when four people were killed and another was injured in a shooting at Young’s Asian Massage in Cherokee County, about 40 miles north of Atlanta, Cherokee County Captain Jay Baker said. Sheriff’s Department.
Two women of Asian descent were among those killed there, along with a white woman and a white man, Baker said, adding that the surviving victim was a Hispanic man.
In Atlanta, the state capital, police officers responding to a call of a “theft conducted” shortly before 6 pm arrived at the Gold Spa beauty salon and found three women shot, the Police Chief said and Rodney Bryant.
While investigating the initial report, officers were called to a separate aromatherapy spa across the road where another woman was found dead from a gunshot wound, Bryant said. All four women killed in Atlanta were of Asian descent.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was visiting South Korea on Wednesday, offered condolences.
“We are horrified by this violence that has no place in America or anywhere,” Blinken told South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong.
The violence came days after US President Joe Biden used a national televised speech to condemn the rise in hate crime and discrimination against Asian-Americans. Civil rights groups have suggested that former President Donald Trump contributed to the trend by repeatedly referring to the coronavirus as the “China virus” because it first appeared there.
“The president was notified overnight about the horrific shooting in Atlanta. White House officials are in contact with the mayor’s office and will remain in touch with the FBI,” White House spokesman said. Jen Psaki in a statement.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock in Cherokee County, was arrested around 8:30 p.m. in Crisp County, about 150 miles (240 km) south of Atlanta. A photo of Long, who is white, was released by authorities.
Baker told Reuters that investigators were “very confident” that the same suspect was the gunman in all three shots. The Atlanta Police Department said the suspect was connected to all of the attacks through video evidence from crime scenes.
Investigators are still working “to confirm with certainty” that the hunt in Atlanta and Cherokee County was interconnected.
It has long been spotted in southern Georgia, far from crime scenes, after Cherokee County police released a bulletin providing a description and license plates of the vehicles involved in the attack, Baker said.
He was arrested without incident after a highway chase by Georgia state police and Crisp County Sheriff’s deputies, sheriff’s officials said.
Authorities said a motive for the hunt was not immediately clear, and it was not determined whether the victims were targeted because of their race or ethnicity.
But the NYPD’s counter-terrorism branch said on Twitter that even without a known connection to New York City, the department will “place assets in our great Asian communities across the city because of a lot of precautions.”
Atlanta police said they are stepping up patrols around businesses similar to those attacked Tuesday.
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta in Vista, Calif., Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland in Washington, Hyonhee Shin in Seoul; Editing by Leslie Adler, Gerry Doyle and Alison williams)
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