The man suspected of killing eight people, mostly women of Asian descent, at three massage parlors in the southeastern U.S. state of Georgia has been identified as Robert Aaron Long of Woodstock, a city 48 kilometers northwest of Atlanta.
Six of the eight people who were shot to death were Asian Americans, raising the specter that the 21-year-old white suspect committed hate crimes against Asian Americans.
But Long, who is in custody facing murder charges, claims the killings were not racially motivated, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Captain Jay Baker said Wednesday.
Baker said an interview with Long revealed signs of possible sex addiction and that the parlors, which Baker said Long may have previously visited, were “a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”
A former high school classmate of Long said the suspect was “very innocent-seeming” and “sort of nerdy,” according to The Daily Beast.
The classmate, who requested anonymity, added that Long liked to hunt and that his father “was a youth minister or pastor.”
The Daily Beast reported that an Instagram account apparently belonging to the suspect had the tagline, “Pizza, guns, drums, music, family, and God. This pretty much sums up my life. It’s a pretty good life.”
Long and other family members participate in activities at Crabapple First Baptist Church in Milton, Georgia, 29 kilometers east of Woodstock, according to social media posts reported by The Daily Beast and Heavy.com.
A person named Aaron Long is described as a member of the church’s student ministry team, according to the social media company Storyful.
Long attended a sermon in September 2020 during which Pastor Jerry Dockery asserted that “radical feminism has engulfed our culture like a tsunami,” Storyful reported.
Sermons on Crabapple First Baptist Church’s YouTube page were made for private viewing-only early Wednesday. The church’s website and social media accounts were also made private.
Before his arrest, Long “was on his way to Florida, perhaps to carry out additional shootings,” Atlanta Mayor Kiesha Lance Bottoms told reporters Wednesday.