Racially targeted deadly shootouts cause concern for Asian community

Three shootings on Tuesday, March 16 in the vicinity of Atlanta, Georgia, killed at least eight. A 21-year-old suspect has been arrested by police.

Racially targeted deadly shootouts cause concern for Asian community
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All three attacks took place in massage parlours located around Atlanta, Georgia, United States. According to the authorities, eight people, including six Asian women, were shot dead during the assaults. At the end of the evening, the motivations of the shooter remain unclear.

A death toll of eight

After examining the CCTV footage, authorities believe it is 'highly likely' that the individual arrested was behind the three attacks, a spokesperson for the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office said.

According to preliminary information from the investigation in which the FBI is also participating, the first shooting took place at 5p.m. local time (9p.m. GMT) in a massage parlour located about 50 kilometres from Atlanta, the capital city of Georgia, said a spokesman for the county police, quoted by the daily Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Final death toll, four dead, two women of Asian origin, a white woman and a white man, as well as two wounded.

Later in the afternoon, two more shootings took place in other massage parlours nearby the city, resulting in an additional death toll of four, according to a police statement.

A suspect arrested

On Tuesday evening, Cherokee County Police announced the arrest of a suspect in a Facebook post. The individual's name is Robert Aaron Long, and is 21 years old. Apprehended more than 240 km south of Atlanta, the man is believed to have been involved in all three shootings, a county police spokesperson for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said.

Shooting suspect in custody!

Posted by Cherokee Sheriff's Office - Georgia on Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Video evidence seen by investigators suggests that it is highly likely that our suspect is the same as the one from Cherokee County, who is in custody.

As for the shooter's motivations, they remain obscure for the time being and they will have to be determined later by the DA.

Asians targeted?

But these attacks occur in a very particular context in the United States: since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, around 3,000 attacks andracist actstargeting the Asian community have been recorded in the country according to Stop AAPI Hate, an association defence of the rights of Asian people.

A surge in violence widely denounced on social networks, with the appearance of several hashtags including the much discussed #StopAsianHate, which has featured regularly in Twitter trends in recent weeks