The sheriff’s office in Cherokee County, Georgia, says it regrets comments from one of its captains that seemed to sympathize with the man accused of killing eight people at three massage spas near Atlanta on Tuesday.
Capt. Jay Baker was heavily criticized after he told reporters that “yesterday was a really bad day” for the suspected shooter, Robert Aaron Long, “and this is what he did.”
Many people felt Baker seemed to provide a possible defense for Long while minimizing the pain of the victims’ family and friends.
Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds released a statement on Thursday saying that while Baker’s comments might be “construed as insensitive or inappropriate,” they “were not intended to disrespect any of the victims, the gravity of this tragedy, or express empathy or sympathy for the suspect.”
Reynolds also said that Baker’s “personal ties to the Asian community” are well known to many — a particularly strange comment considering the captain promoted online merchandise demonizing China over the coronavirus.
The sheriff, who was aware of the xenophobic shirts thanks to The Daily Beast, did not reference those shirts in his statement.
Reynolds did not immediately respond to HuffPost.
After Reynolds released his statement, it was announced that Baker would no longer be the spokesperson on the shootings.
Nicole Carr of Atlanta station WSB said the department is evaluating Baker’s future with the sheriff’s office.