Atlanta massage parlor shooting suspect 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long took “full responsibility” for a series of shootings on Tuesday night, officials said, adding that Long may not have targeted the parlors out of a racially motivated animus but because he wanted to end his addiction.
In the string of shootings, eight people were killed, including six of Asian descent, authorities said. The other two victims were white, officials added.
Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds told reporters that Long was apparently a frequent visitor at the massage parlors prior to his shooting spree.
“The suspect has been interviewed, which indicated he has some issues, potentially sexual addiction. He may have frequented some of these places in the past,” he said, adding that allegedly, the gunman sought to “eliminate the temptation” by committing acts of violence against them.
Reynolds added that “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.”
Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant also said that officers “are just not there yet” about whether the shooting was racially motivated.
Without elaborating on the details, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms added that it appeared Long was on his way to Florida to shoot up “some type of porn industry,” before deputies arrested him.
“He does claim that it was not racially motivated,” Capt. Jay Baker of the sheriff’s office elaborated in saying to reporters, adding that the investigation is ongoing.
The attacks began Tuesday evening, when five people were shot at Young’s Asian Massage Parlor near Woodstock, about 30 miles north of Atlanta, Baker said. Two people died at the scene, and three were taken to a hospital where two died, Baker said.
Surveillance video recorded a man pulling up to the Cherokee County business about 10 minutes before the attack there, and the same car was spotted outside the Atlanta businesses, authorities said. A manhunt was launched, and Long was taken into custody in Crisp County, about 150 miles south of Atlanta, Baker said.
FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said the agency is assisting Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities in the investigation.
Long is expected to be arraigned on Thursday morning.
The FBI is assisting both Cherokee County and Atlanta police in investigating the case, authorities said Wednesday.
Other details about the case, including the suspect, were not provided by officials during the news conference.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.