Obama Calls For End To Anti-Asian Violence After Shootings At Massage Spas

Eight people, including six women of Asian descent, were killed during three shootings in the Atlanta area.

Former President Barack Obama called for an end to anti-Asian violence after a series of shootings at three Atlanta-area massage spas left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent.

“Even as we’ve battled the pandemic, we’ve continued to neglect the longer-lasting epidemic of gun violence in America,” Obama said Wednesday in a statement. “Although the shooter’s motive is not yet clear, the identity of the victims underscores an alarming rise in anti-Asian violence that must end.”

Police arrested 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long of Woodstock, Georgia, in connection with the shootings on Tuesday night.

He was arrested as he began driving toward Florida, where investigators say he may have been planning to carry out more attacks.

“This could have been significantly worse,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said Wednesday morning at a news conference. “It is very likely that there would have been more victims.”

Long told police he had “sexual addiction” issues and targeted the spas to “take out that temptation,” said Capt. Jay Baker, spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.

Although investigators stopped short of declaring the attacks a hate crime, violence against Asian Americans has been on the rise since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“Yesterday’s shooting are another tragic reminder that we have far more work to do to put in place commonsense gun safety laws and root out the pervasive patterns or hatred and violence in our society,” Obama said in his statement. “Michelle and I pray for the victims, their families, everyone grieving these needless and devastating killings―and we urge meaningful action that will save lives.”

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