The man accused of killing eight people—including six Asian women—in a shooting spree at three Atlanta-area spas has been indicted by a grand jury on murder charges, and the prosecutor has indicated that she will also seek hate crime charges as well as the death penalty.
The Associated Press reports the Fulton County grand jury indictments only cover the deaths of Suncha Kim, 69; Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; and Yong Ae Yue, 63 by Robert Aaron Long, 22, on March 16. Those four killings happened at spas in Atlanta.
The killing of Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Delaina Yaun, 33; and Paul Michels, 54, took place in Cherokee County and are not covered under the indictment. A separate grand jury will have to decide what Long will be charged with in the shooting that took place at a spa near Woodstock, Ga., where the other four victims were killed.
Under the indictment, Long has been charged 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
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has also filed notice that she will be seeking hate crime charges as well as the death penalty against Long, who is white.
According to AP, “The hate crime charges are based on actual or perceived race, national origin, sex and gender, according to online records. 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.”
AP notes that Willis was asked during her campaign last year if she would commit to not seeking the death penalty, a question to which she answered yes, so her seeking the death penalty for Long is significant.
More from AP:
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 saw him in still images from security footage that the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office posted online. They notified authorities of his identity and provided cellphone information that eventually led to Long’s capture about 140 miles south of Atlanta.
Long reportedly told investigators that he had a sex addiction. Law enforcement delivered the narrative that race was not a factor in the shootings, saying Long had lashed out at the businesses because he saw them as a temptation. That narrative resulted in a loud and public outcry, especially when it was discovered that the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Captain Jay Baker, who had delivered the narrative in the original press conference, had himself engaged in anti-Asian sentiments via the shilling of T-shirts made by a former colleague that mocked the coronavirus pandemic and its origins in China.
In that same press conference, Baker went on to say that Long was just having “a bad day.”
Hopefully the victims’ families will get some semblance of justice in this case.