FBI Director Christopher Wray dismisses a racial motive in the Atlanta attack that killed eight people, of which six were Asian women, and two were Caucasian. The perpetrator, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, said that his attack was not motivated by race.
“While the motive remains still under investigation at the moment, it does not appear that the motive was racially motivated. But I really would defer to the state and local investigation on that for now,” Wray said in an interview with NPR.
The shootings took place at three spas in Atlanta, starting with Young’s Asian Massage Parlor near Woodstock. After police went over the surveillance footage, they launched a search, and Long was eventually taken into custody.
According to Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds, Long frequented massage parlors. During police interviews, Long claimed that he was addicted to sex and wanted to “eliminate the temptation” by taking out the three spas.
Atlanta Police unsure whether killings were racially motivated
Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant admitted law enforcement was uncertain whether Long’s attack was racially motivated. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms revealed that Long was planning on going to Florida to shoot up “some type of porn industry” before getting arrested. The FBI is assisting Atlanta police and Cherokee County authorities in the investigation. Long has been charged with one count of aggravated assault and four counts of murder.
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FBI Director Wray was reiterating the investigation’s official stance in his NPR interview. However, Democrat Georgia senator Raphael Warnock rejected the possibility that the attack might not be racial, saying that “we all know hate when we see it.”
Warnock, who is the first African-American to be elected into the Senate from Georgia, cited the state’s hate crime laws which prosecutors might use against Long if it’s proven that the shootings were racially motivated.
Stop AAPI Hate, which tracks attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, acknowledged that Long’s motive is unclear but needs to be addressed. Mayor Bottoms also emphasized that a crime against any community is a crime against all of us. President Biden said that the attacks against Asian Americans are “un-American” and must be stopped.
The Atlanta attacks have also triggered calls for tightening gun laws. Long had purchased a 9mm handgun from Big Woods Goods. The store stated that it strictly complies with federal background check laws when selling guns and that there was no indication of anything improper in the transaction with Long.
Some argue that a mandatory waiting period for gun purchases might have prevented Long from executing the shootings.
“It’s really quick… You walk in, fill out the paperwork, get your background check, and walk out with a gun. If you’re in a state of crisis, personal crisis, you can do a lot of harm fairly quickly,” executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Robyn Thomas, told the AP.
Giffords Center studies show that purchase waiting periods could potentially drive down homicides by 17 percent.