8 killed in shootings at Atlanta-area spas

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 9:47 a.m. ET, March 18, 2021
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12:59 p.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Georgia's Asian American leaders call for a community-centered response 

An Asian American justice group has blamed White supremacy and racism as the cause for Tuesday night's Atlanta shooting and is calling for communities of color to band together to condemn racist violence.

In a statement released Wednesday, Stephanie Cho, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, said:

“We are heartbroken by these acts of violence. Six Asian women lost their lives. Now is the time to hold the victims and their families in our hearts and in our light. We’re calling on our allies across communities of color to stand with us in grief and solidarity against racist violence in all its forms. When our most vulnerable community members are targeted, we all need to band together."

"While the details of the shootings are still emerging, this happened under the trauma of increasing violence against Asian Americans nationwide, fueled by white supremacy and systemic racism. While anti-Asian violence is woven throughout our nation’s history, the Trump administration’s scapegoating of Asians for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased the incidence of hate and violence against Asian Americans. According to the most recent data, hate incidents targeting Asian Americans rose by nearly 150% in 2020, with Asian American women twice as likely to be targeted," the statement continued.

Phi Nguyen, litigation director at the organization, said: “That the Asian women murdered yesterday were working highly vulnerable jobs during an ongoing pandemic speaks directly to the compounding impacts of sexism, structural violence, and white supremacy.”

The statement called for local and state government to "provide robust in-language interpretation and translation for crisis intervention resources, including support for mental health and immigration services. It is time for Georgia to invest in transformative justice that begins with cross racial dialogue and community-building."

9:47 a.m. ET, March 18, 2021

Officials identify victims of shooting at spa in Acworth, Georgia

From CNN's Amanda Watts

Mike Stewart/AP
Mike Stewart/AP

Officials in Cherokee County have released names of the five victims who were shot during Tuesday shooting at Young’s Asian Massage in Acworth, Georgia.

According to a statement from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, four victims were killed at that location:

  • Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, of Acworth
  • Paul Andre Michels, 54, of Atlanta
  • Xiaojie Tan, 49, of Kennesaw
  • Daoyou Feng, 44, unknown address

One victim was injured and is in stable condition:

  • Elcias R. Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, of Acworth

On Tuesday, eight people were found dead at three different massage parlors in the Atlanta area on Tuesday, according to law enforcement officials.

The names of the four victims killed in Atlanta have not been released.  

The suspect in the shootings Robert Aaron Long, 21, has been charged with, “four counts of Murder and one count of Aggravated Assault and has no bond,” the CCSO statement says. He is currently detained at the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly spelled Xiaojie Tan's name. 

12:01 p.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Here's what we still don't know about the spa shootings

Flowers are seen at the entrance of Gold Spa in Atlanta on March 17.
Flowers are seen at the entrance of Gold Spa in Atlanta on March 17. Virginie Kippelen/AFP via Getty Images

Eight people – including six Asian women – were shot dead at three metro Atlanta spas. One suspect is in custody, but authorities say there's still a lot of work to be done.

Here's what we still don't know about the attacks:

  • Motive: Police have not yet offered a motive in the shootings. Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said investigators are not ready to say yet whether or not the attacks are being considered as a hate crime. "He made indicators that he has some issues, potentially sexual addiction, and may have frequented some of these places in the past," Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff Frank Reynolds said.
  • The gun: Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County sheriff's office said officials found the gun in the suspect's vehicle. He said they do not know if it was obtained legally. They also do not know how much ammunition was used or how many times the gun was fired. Baker did say it was the only weapon they found.
  • The suspect: The 21 year-old did take responsibility for the shootings, according to Baker, but said officials do not know much about his background – including who he was living with and if he was employed. During interviews, Baker said the suspect told investigators the shootings were not racially motivated.

What's next:

  • Arraignment tomorrow: Reynolds said the suspect should be at an arraignment on Thursday. He said that could happen some time in the morning.
  • No charges yet: The suspect was interviewed by the Cherokee County police, Atlanta police and the FBI on Tuesday night and remains at Cherokee County adult detention center, Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff Frank Reynolds said.
12:10 p.m. ET, March 17, 2021

California Democrat on Georgia shootings: Trump "stoked the flames of xenophobia" 

From CNN's Kristin Wilson 

Rep. Judy Chu speaks during a press conferencein 2019.
Rep. Judy Chu speaks during a press conferencein 2019. Luke Montavon/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Judy Chu, a Democrat from California, joined Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries today on the Georgia shootings that left eight people dead in the Atlanta area. 

“President Trump clearly stoke the flames of xenophobia against APIs, with his rhetoric,” she said, calling Trump’s use of “China virus, Wuhan virus and even Kung Flu.”

The term "API" is used to refer to both Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans within the United States.

Eight people were shot dead at three metro Atlanta spas on Tuesday. Six were Asian women, officials said. Police have not yet offered a motive in the bloody attacks, but because of many of the victims' backgrounds, some public officials and organizations have raised concerns that ethnicity came into play. It comes amid an alarming spike in violence directed at the Asian American community in recent months.

“As a result, the anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents increased exponentially. In fact, this company, research, the amount of anti Asian Twitter traffic in those first few months of his usage of these terms and increase increased by 900%,” she said. “And what we saw yesterday, is the result of that.”

Jeffries echoed her statement, saying he “would encourage members of Congress who continue to use that type of hateful rhetoric, cut it out, because you also have blood on your hands.”

Watch:

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported eight Asian people were killed in the shootings. Eight people, including six Asian women and two White people, were killed.

11:40 a.m. ET, March 17, 2021

VP Harris to Asian American community following shootings: "We stand with you"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris offered support and solidarity with the Asian American community after eight people were killed at metro Atlanta spas on Tuesday.

"It speaks to a larger issue, which is the issue of violence in our country and what we must do to never tolerate it and to always speak out against it," said Harris, the first South Asian, Black and female vice president.

Harris noted that the investigation is still ongoing. Officials said it is too early to determine whether or not the shootings are being considered a hate crime. Six of the eight people killed were Asian women, according to officials.

"I do want to say to our Asian American community that we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged all people. But knowing the increasing level of hate crime against our Asian American brothers and sisters, we also want to speak out in solidarity with them and acknowledge that none of us should ever be silent in the face of any form of hate," Harris said.

Harris said she and President Biden extend their prayers to the families of those killed.

Watch:

11:29 a.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Only surviving victim of Atlanta shootings is in stable condition, official says

From CNN’s Amanda Watts 

The only surviving victim of Tuesday’s shootings in Atlanta is in stable condition, according to Captain Jay Baker with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office. 

During a Wednesday briefing, Baker said the victim is in stable condition at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Georgia. 

Baker said in Cherokee County, there were five victims total. Four were killed and one survived.  

On Tuesday, eight people were found dead – six of them Asian women – at three different massage parlors in the Atlanta area, according to law enforcement officials.

Police have not yet offered a motive in the shootings, but confirmed a suspect is in custody. The investigation is at an early stage.

11:25 a.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Barack Obama reacts to Atlanta shootings and rise in anti-Asian violence

From CNN's Konstantin Toropin

Barack Obama speaks in 2019.
Barack Obama speaks in 2019. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama reacted to news of Tuesday night's shootings in Atlanta, tweeting a statement about anti-Asian violence and gun control.

"Although the shooter’s motive is not yet clear, the identity of the victims underscores an alarming rise in anti-Asian violence that must end," Obama wrote.

"Yesterday's shootings are another tragic reminder that we have far more work to do to put in place commonsense gun safety laws and root out the pervasive patterns of hatred and violence in our society," he added.

The shootings at spas in Georgia left eight people dead – six of them Asian women – in three separate incidents.

Remember: Police have not yet offered a motive in the shootings but confirmed a suspect is in custody and the investigation is ongoing.

11:18 a.m. ET, March 17, 2021

Most of the Georgia shooting victims were Asian, 2 were White 

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

WXIA
WXIA

According to Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, most of the victims in Tuesday’s shooting in Georgia were Asian, and two were White. 

In total, eight people were killed in Atlanta and Cherokee County.

“Just to be clear, our victims – I know that, obviously, Atlanta, all their victims were Asian – two of our victims were white,” Baker said during a Wednesday briefing. 

“We had two Asians and two Whites that were killed at our location,” he explained. 

Earlier in the briefing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said regardless of the motivation of this crime:

“We know that many of the victims, the majority of the victims, were Asian. We also know that this is an issue that's happening across the country. It is unacceptable, it is hateful, and it has to stop.”

Officials stressed that it is still early in the investigation and nothing can be ruled out at this point.

Police have not yet offered a motive in the shootings.

11:21 a.m. ET, March 17, 2021

How police caught the suspect, according to local officials

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff Frank Reynolds speaks on March 17.
Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff Frank Reynolds speaks on March 17. WGCL

Officials today gave a chronological order of events that unfolded on Tuesday night in the Atlanta area, where eight people – including six Asian women – were shot dead at three metro Atlanta spas. One suspect is in custody, authorities said.

Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff Frank Reynolds says his department got a call about a shooting at about 4:55 p.m. ET.

"Our deputies responded and found multiple gunshot victims. We were able to quickly identify a potential subject from video footage," he said.

At 5:47 p.m. ET,  police responded to a robbery call at 1916 Piedmont Road, where they found three women shot. While investigating that incident, they received another call about an incident at 1907 Piedmont Road, where they found another women shot, another law enforcement official said.

"Both locations were massage parlors. At that time, we recognized that we had had information previously put out by Cherokee County that they had a similar incident in their jurisdiction," he said.

When police put the information about the suspect on social media, the suspect's family members got in touch.

"Shortly thereafter, we were contacted by members of a family, indicating that that may be their son. So we met with them. I was there speaking with the family. They're very distraught and they were very helpful in this apprehension," he added.

Law enforcement was then able to track the suspect's phone, anticipating his movements. Crisp County police intercepted him in coordination with state patrol.

"They initiated a traffic stop and then immediately pitted the vehicle. After the vehicle was pitted, the suspect was taken into custody without further incident and transported to the Crisp County jail," a state patrol official said. 

The suspect was interviewed by the Cherokee County police, Atlanta police and the FBI on Tuesday night and remains at Cherokee County adult detention center, Reynolds reported.

Watch: