ATLANTA — Police say 21-year-old Robert Long is now in custody in connection to a shooting rampage that left eight people dead Tuesday.
They say the Woodstock man admitted that he planned the shootings, indicating that sexual addiction may have played a role in his motive.
Both local and federal law enforcement agencies have joined in on the investigation, but have not yet declared an exact motive. However, police have said they are investigating whether the killings are racially motivated, as many of his victims were Asian women.
During a press conference on Tuesday, officials said that Long, who is white, understood the gravity of what he had done, and "he was pretty much fed up."
Officials added that he shared with them he was "at the end of his rope."
Authorities said the first shooting happened at Young's Asian Massage in Cherokee County just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16. Four people were killed there and one man was injured. The owner of a business next door said she had a bullet come through her wall.
"They were screaming, and I told my husband can you see what happened with them…they may need help," she said.
Just 45 minutes later, a second and third shooting happened in Midtown Atlanta where police said three more people were killed at the Gold Spa and a fourth at the Aromatherapy Spa on Piedmont Road. Those businesses are across the street from each other.
Police said they quickly identified Long as the suspect after they put out surveillance photos of the gunman and Long's family contacted them. Law enforcement said they then used Long's phone to track him down and arrest him in Crisp County Tuesday night. They said he told them he was headed to Florida to commit similar acts.
As of Wednesday evening, Long is being held at the Cherokee County Detention Center. Officials said Long told them he was a sex addict during interviews, and that he targeted the spas because of temptation.
"He apparently has an issue, what he considers an addiction and sees these locations as something that allows him to to to go to these places. And it's a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate," Cherokee County Captain Jay Baker said in a press conference.
Spa killing suspect | Robert Long
Law enforcement said it is unclear at this time if Long had ever been to any of these specific spas before the shootings. His first court appearance is expected to be on Thursday.
While his motive is unclear, other than him reportedly telling investigators that his goal was to get rid of the temptation because he has a sex addiction, many on social media are pointing to this spike in violence against Asian people and framing this crime as a hate crime.
The Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council on Twitter said in part, "right now there is a great deal of fear and pain in the Asian American community that must be addressed.”
The FBI, Georgia State Patrol, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and Atlanta Police Department are all part of the investigation.
Though Long is facing eight murder charges - four for the deaths in Atlanta and four for the deaths in Cherokee County - and one charge of aggravated assault for the only surviving Cherokee County victim, it's not clear if he will be charged with Georgia's new hate crime law since six of the eight people he killed were Asian women.