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Georgia District Attorney Intends to File Hate Crime Charges Against Robert Aaron Long



GEORGIA – A Georgia district attorney intends to file hate crime charges against Robert Aaron Long, 22, who is accused of shooting and killing eight people, including six Asian women, at massage spas in the Atlanta area on March 16. Long was indicted Tuesday on murder charges.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is seeking the death penalty, which goes against a statement she made last year at a candidate forum during her campaign for district attorney in which she said she would refuse to seek the death penalty as a sentence, the Associated Press reported.

Tuesday’s indictment of Long by a Fulton County grand jury is regarding the deaths of Suncha Kim, 69, Soon Chung Park, 74, Hyun Jung Grant, 51, and Yong Ae Yue, 63, at two separate locations. A separate grand jury will decide on Long’s involvement in Cherokee Country, where he allegedly killed Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49, Daoyou Feng, 44, Delaina Yaun, 33, and Paul Michels, 54.

Online records show that the hate crime charges are based on the actual or perceived race, national origin, and sex and gender. If Long is convicted of a crime, it is up to the jury to decide if it is a hate crime, which would add an additional penalty under Georgia’s new hate crime law.

A prosecutor filed notice that she’ll also seek hate crime charges and the death penalty for Long.

The indictment charges Long 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, according to online records.

It will be up to a separate grand jury in Cherokee County to decide on charges in the shooting at a spa near suburban Woodstock in which four were killed and one person was wounded.

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 south to Atlanta, where he shot and killed three women at Gold Spa before going across the street to Aromatherapy Spa and fatally shooting another woman, police 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 called authorities to help after recognizing their son in still images from security video that the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office posted on social media. They provided cellphone information that allowed authorities to track their son to rural Crisp County, about 140 miles south of Atlanta.

State troopers and sheriff’s deputies spotted his SUV on Interstate 75, and one of them forced Long to spin to a stop by bumping his vehicle. Long then surrendered to authorities.

In an initial interview with investigators, Long claimed to have a “sex addiction,” and authorities said he apparently lashed out at businesses he viewed as a temptation. But those statements spurred outrage and widespread skepticism given the locations and that six of the eight victims were women of Asian descent.