On Wednesday, President Joe Biden spoke about the spa shootings in the Atlanta area that resulted in the deaths of eight people. The president said that he had spoken with the attorney general and the director of the FBI, adding that the motive behind the shootings had not yet been determined as the investigation is ongoing.
“Whatever the motivation here, I know that Asian Americans are very concerned, because as you know, I have been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans for the last couple months, and I think it is very, very troubling,” Biden said.
He added, “But I’m making no connection at this moment for the motivation of the killer. I’m waiting for an answer from, as the investigation proceeds, from the FBI and from the Justice Department … so I’ll have more to say when the investigation’s completed.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing on Wednesday that law enforcement is “still determining a motive” for the shootings, but added that Biden “signed that executive order within the early part of his administration, and he’s also asked Susan Rice and Cedric Richmond to do listening sessions as well so that we can hear from the community and determine how that should impact policies moving forward.”
The Daily Wire reports that, after a prolonged manhunt, police arrested a 21-year-old man who is thought to have confessed to the killings:
“The attacks began around 5 p.m. when five people were shot at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor in a strip mall near a rural area in Acworth, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Atlanta, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Jay Baker said. Two people died at the scene and three were transported to a hospital where two of them also died,” according to the Associated Press.
The shooting spree continued across the suburbs surrounding Atlanta.
“Around 5:50 p.m., police in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, responding to a call of a robbery in progress, found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds at Gold Spa. While they were at that scene, they learned of a call reporting shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, and found a woman who appeared to have been shot dead inside the business,” the AP continued.
Police reportedly identified the vehicle of the suspect by using security videos of the parking lot in front of one of the massage parlors.
The Daily Wire’s Emily Zanotti reports that even as motive was unknown — and still is — members of the media “began to speculate that the suspect’s decision to target the massage parlors, staffed largely by Asian females, was indicative of an anti-Asian hate crime, and connected the shooting spree to recent attacks on elderly individuals of Asian descent in places like San Francisco, California, and New York City (though even the most high-profile of those attacks do not appear to have been motivated specifically by racial animus).”
However, law enforcement officials stated that they did not believe the killings were motivated by race and the suspect took “responsibility” for the shootings, according to Fox News. During a press conference, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Captain Jay Baker said, “He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as … a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”
During an interview on the “Situation Room” on Wednesday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms was asked whether the shootings should be charged as hate crimes.
“I think whatever the stiffest most appropriate charges there are, this guy should face those charges,” said Bottoms. “In Georgia, you can be charged with a hate crime. It covers a variety of areas and I personally think it would be appropriate, but I will defer to the prosecutors to make that determination.”
Bottoms added, “This is a man who murdered eight people in cold blood, so it’s very difficult to believe what he says … It’s difficult to ignore the fact that many of the victims were Asian, all of the victims in Atlanta were Asian, in fact, and that he targeted these Asian massage parlors.”
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