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Atlanta police are yet to officially determine whether the alleged gunman who shot up three spas in the city’s suburbs, killing eight people including six Asian women, committed a hate crime, Deputy Chief Charles Hampton said Thursday.
“I don’t have a position,” said Hampton when asked during a press briefing about Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds’ saying Wednesday that the slayings didn’t appear to be motivated by racial bias. “I’m only going to comment about our investigation. … We’re not trying to try the case in public.”
According to authorities, Robert Aaron Long, 21, has admitted to the slayings, but insisted that he was not motivated by racial hate.
Instead, cops say, Long has claimed that he has a sex addiction, and was trying to “eliminate” the “temptation” the spas made him feel.
Hampton confirmed Thursday that it appears Long had patronized at least two of three spas prior to his rampage.
“Right now, early in our investigation, it appears that he may have frequented those locations,” said Hampton, referring to Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa, the two locations within his jurisdiction.
However, it’s unclear if he specifically targeted his eight victims due to some prior interaction, Hampton said.
While authorities have identified the four fatal victims from Young’s Asian Massage in Cherokee County, the first location Long targeted, Hampton said Thursday that they are still unable to publicly name the four people killed in his jurisdiction, due to issues notifying their families of their deaths.
Long faces eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault, for seriously wounding a ninth victim in Cherokee County.
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