After cries from across the country in the days after the March 16 murder of eight people—six of whom were Asian women—at three Atlanta-area massage parlors, prosecutors are moving on hate-crime charges. The Associated Press reports that a Fulton County grand jury indicted Robert Aaron Long, 22, on murder charges Tuesday, and District Attorney Fani Willis said she would also be seeking hate-crime charges as well as the death penalty.
The charges come after Long confessed to the murders and said he was driven by a “sex addiction” that led him to target the spas, according to police. His claimed motive was notoriously echoed by police, including Cherokee County Sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker, who said Long had been having a “bad day” before the shooting, a comment many believed downplayed the killings. Hours later, Baker faced more outrage over reporting by The Daily Beast on social-media posts in which he promoted T-shirts with the racist logo “COVID-19 imported virus from CHY-NA.”
The new hate-crime charges against Long would be for the murders of four people: Suncha Kim, 69, Soon Chung Park, 74, Hyun Jung Grant, 51, and Yong Ae Yue, 63. The other four murders—of Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49, Daoyou Feng, 44, Delaina Yaun, 33, and Paul Michels, 54—took place in Cherokee County. A separate grand jury there will decide on charges for Long.