WOODSTOCK, Ga. (NewsNation Now) — The Georgia man accused of killing eight people at spas in the Atlanta area told police his act was not racially motivated, and that he potentially had a “sex addiction,” officials said Wednesday.
Still, officials said they were investigating whether the deaths were hate crimes amid concerns over a wave of attacks on Asian Americans. Six of the victims were Asian and seven were women.
Officials did not say that Robert Aaron Long, 21, ever went to the parlors where the shootings occurred. They also said he was planning to go to Florida in a plot to attack “some type of porn industry.”
“He made indicators that he has some issues, potentially sexual addiction, and may have frequented some of these places in the past,” said Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds.
He said it was too early to tell if it was racially motivated. “But the indicators right now are it may not be. It may be targets of opportunity. Again, we believe that he frequented these places in the past and maybe have been lashing out.”
Authorities charged Long Wednesday with eight counts of murder in the shootings at the three spas. They first charged him with four counts of murder in the shooting at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor, where the attacks began Tuesday evening near the town of Woodstock, which is about 30 miles north of Atlanta.
Two of the victims died at the scene and three were transported to a hospital where two of them also died, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Jay Baker said.
Two women of Asian descent were among the dead there, along with a white woman and a white man, Baker said, adding that the surviving victim was a Hispanic man.
Those victims were identified as: 49-year-old Xiaojie Yan, 44-year-old Daoyou Feng, 33-year-old Delaina Ashley Yaun and 54-year-old Paul Andre Michels, The condition of the injured man is not known.
Later Tuesday evening, police officers responded to a call of a robbery in progress at Gold Spa in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta. Officers found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds. While they were at that scene, they learned of a call reporting shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, and found a woman who appeared to have been shot dead inside the business.
More charges against Long are expected.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden has been briefed on the “horrific shootings” and administration officials have been in contact with the mayor’s office and the FBI.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that its diplomats in Atlanta have confirmed from police that four of the victims who died were women of Korean descent. The ministry said the office of its Consulate General in Atlanta is trying to confirm the nationality of the women.
“Our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday evening on Twitter.
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office shared photos of a man suspected in the Acworth shooting and their vehicle on Facebook after surveillance video captured them pulling up to the business around 4:50 p.m.
Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock said in a video posted on Facebook that his deputies and state troopers were notified around 8 p.m. that a murder suspect out of north Georgia was headed toward their county. Deputies and troopers set up along the interstate and “made contact with the suspect,” who was driving a 2007 black Hyundai Tucson, around 8:30 p.m., he said.
A state trooper performed a PIT, or pursuit intervention technique, maneuver, “which caused the vehicle to spin out of control,” Hancock said.
Long was then taken into custody “without incident” and was being held in the Crisp County jail about 150 miles south of Atlanta.
FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said the agency was assisting Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities in the investigation.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.