Local news

No Thais among 8 killed in Atlanta shootings

THE Royal Thai Embassy in Washington today (March 18) said there were no Thais among the eight people killed at massage parlours in Atlanta, Georgia, with six of them being Asian women, Amarin TV said.

The embassy added that the three massage parlours attacked by Robert Aaron Long, 21, were not Thai businesses nor were there any Thais working there.

However the embassy warned all Thais both in Atlanta and elsewhere in the US to be careful in public and in their communities. 

In the event of an urgent need or if they have suffered an attack Thais in the US were told to notify local government agencies and/or notify the embassy or the consulate-general in the area they live as follows:

  • Royal Thai Embassy in ​​Washington, telephone 202-999-7690 or email protection@thaiembdc.org;
  • Royal Thai Consulate-General in Chicago, telephone 773-294-5933 or email info@thaiconsulatechicago.org;
  • Royal Thai Consulate-General in New York, telephone 646-842-0864 or email info@thaicgny.com;
  • Royal Thai Consulate-General in Los Angeles, telephone 323-580-4222 or email protection@thaiconsulatela.org;
  • In addition, advice in the event of an emergency can be obtained at http://www.thaiembdc.org/th/consularservice/emergency/

Meanwhile BBC reported that Robert Aaron Long faces multiple counts of murder as well as aggravated assault over the killing of eight people at the three massage parlours in Atlanta.

Officials cannot yet confirm if the attack, in which six Asian women were killed, was racially motivated. Four victims were named on Wednesday.

Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said the suspect may have been a patron and claimed to have a “sex addiction”.

The attack comes amid a sharp uptick in crimes against Asian-Americans.

Four of the victims have been identified as Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; and Daoyou Feng, 44. Elcias R Hernandez-Ortiz was identified as having been injured.

What did the police say?

In a news conference on Wednesday, investigators said Mr Long, 21, of Woodstock, Georgia, admitted to the shooting spree, and said that he denied that the attack was motivated by race.

He has been charged with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault, according to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department.

“He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” said Capt Jay Baker, adding that Mr Long was caught with a 9mm handgun and did not resist arrest.

But Capt Baker’s remarks – that “yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did” – came in for widespread criticism for appearing to sympathise with the alleged perpetrator.

Massage parlours are known to sometimes provide prostitution services, but authorities say there is no indication yet that this is the case at the targeted locations.

“These are legally operating businesses that have not been on our radar,” said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who added that the city would not engage in “victim shaming, victim blaming”.

Police also noted it is still too early in the investigation to definitively state a motive and that the suspect appeared to have been acting alone.

Ms Bottoms said that he was on his way to Florida, possibly to commit more shootings, when he was arrested.

The suspect’s parents helped to identify him, officials told reporters.

According to CBS News, the suspect told investigators that “he loved God and guns”.

What do we know about the shootings?

The first happened at about 17:00 (21:00 GMT) on Tuesday at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Cherokee County.

Two people died at the scene and three were taken to hospital, where two more died, sheriff’s office spokesman Capt Baker said. He later confirmed the victims were two Asian women, a white woman and a white man, and said a Hispanic man had been wounded.

Less than an hour later, police were called to a “robbery in progress” at Gold Spa in north-east Atlanta. In the recording of the 911 call released on Wednesday, a woman tells the dispatcher that she’s hiding from the assailant.

“Do you have a description of the male?” the operator asks.

“We’re hiding right now,” the woman replies. “They have a gun.”

“Please come, ok?” she says.

When authorities arrived at the spa, “officers located three females deceased inside the location from apparent gunshot wounds”, police said.

While there, officers were called to a spa across the street, called Aromatherapy Spa, where they found another woman shot dead.

On a second 911 call, a woman tells the operator that she got a call from a friend who said a man had entered the spa and fired a gun.

“They said some guy came in… We heard a gunshot and the lady’s passed out in front of the door,” she says. “And everybody is scared and everybody is hiding.”

Investigators who had studied CCTV footage then released images of a suspect near one of the spas. Police said that, after a manhunt, Robert Aaron Long was arrested in Crisp County, about 150 miles (240km) south of Atlanta.

CAPTIONS:

Top: Two of the spas were across the road from each other in Atlanta. Photo: EPA and published by BBC

Home Page: Robert Aaron Long was taken into custody. Photo: Reuters and published by BBC

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