The suspect in the fatal shootings of eight people at three massage parlors in and around Atlanta blamed a sex addiction for his rampage Tuesday.
“He sees them as an outlet for something that he shouldn’t be doing … and he was attempting to take out that temptation,” Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday morning in a news conference in Atlanta.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, was arrested Tuesday night after a traffic stop in Crisp County, about 150 miles south of Atlanta, where he allegedly shot people at two businesses on Piedmont Road.
That was less than an hour after the first shootings, in Acworth. The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office posted surveillance photos and Long’s family recognized him.
Officials said Long’s parents cooperated, providing cellphone information that was used to track his car on Interstate 75 as he drove south.
“They determined that the suspect was on his way to Florida, perhaps to carry out additional shootings,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said. “As tragic as this was in metro Atlanta, it could have been significantly worse.”
Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said he coordinated with his counterpart in Crisp County, Sheriff Billy Hancock, to look for the suspect vehicle. State troopers and Crisp sheriff’s deputies performed a PIT maneuver to stop Long, who didn’t put up a fight.
A 9 mm handgun was found in the vehicle.
In interviews with local and federal authorities, Long reportedly did not say the crimes were racially motivated.
“The suspect did take responsibility for the shootings,” Baker said. “He claims that it was not racially motivated. He has what he claims as a sex addiction and sees these locations and sees these as a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”
Six of the eight people who died were Asian. Victims from the shooting at Youngs Asian Massage in Acworth were 33-year-old Delaina Ashley Yaun of Acworth, 54-year-old Paul Andre Michels of Atlanta, 49-year-old Xiaojie Tan of Kennesaw and 44-year-old Daoyou Feng.
Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, of Acworth, was injured and taken to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta.
Baker said Long did not discuss politics in his interrogation.
Long has been extradited to the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center in Canton and is expected to be arraigned Thursday morning.