Authorities in the U.S. state of Georgia arrested a man late Tuesday after a series of shootings that left eight people dead, six of them Asian women, in the Atlanta area.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said four of the victims were of Korean descent.
In a statement early Wednesday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden had been briefed overnight “about the horrific shootings,” and that “White House officials have been in touch with the Mayor’s office and will remain in touch with the FBI.”
The first attack took place at a massage parlor in the town of Acworth, about 50 kilometers north of Atlanta. Authorities there said a shooter killed two Asian women, a white woman and a white man, and also wounded another man.
About an hour later, police in Atlanta found three Asian women dead from apparent gunshot wounds at a beauty spa. They then found another Asian woman dead of a gunshot at a spa a short distance away.
Police said surveillance video showed the suspect’s vehicle at all three locations, and that they were very confident the same shooter was responsible for the attacks.
After a highway pursuit, police later stopped a vehicle about 240 kilometers south of Atlanta and arrested 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long.
The shootings come amid other attacks against people of Asian descent in the United States.
The group Stop AAPI Hate called the shootings “an unspeakable tragedy” for the Asian American community.
“There has been a documented pattern of recent attacks against our community, as we have received nearly 3,800 reports of hate incidents across the country since March 2020,” the group said in a statement. “Not enough has been done to protect Asian Americans from heightened levels of hate, discrimination and violence.”
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, tweeted, “My heart breaks to see this tragic news.”
“AAPI Americans are once again being targeted, harassed, attacked, and killed in Georgia and communities across America,” she wrote. “We must do everything we can to end this violence while organizing together against hate, gun violence, and bigotry.”