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Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff for victims of Atlanta spa shootings

The president said in a proclamation that all U.S. flags across the country should remain at half-staff until sunset on March 22, 2021.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered all flags to be flown at half-staff for the eight victims killed during a shooting rampage in the Atlanta area on Tuesday.

The president said in a proclamation that all U.S. flags across the country will remain that way until sunset on March 22, 2021, "as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence."

A gunman was charged Wednesday with killing eight people at three Atlanta-area spas in an attack that sent terror through the Asian American community, which has increasingly been targeted during the coronavirus pandemic.

A day after the shootings, investigators were trying to unravel what might have compelled 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long to commit the worst mass killing in the U.S. in almost two years.

Long told police that Tuesday’s attack was not racially motivated. He claimed to have a “sex addiction,” and authorities said he apparently lashed out at what he saw as sources of temptation. But those statements spurred outrage and widespread skepticism given the locations and that six of the eight victims were Asian women.

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Hundreds of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders turned to social media to share their anger, sadness, fear and hopelessness. The hashtag #StopAsianHate was a top trending topic on Twitter hours after the shootings that happened Tuesday evening.

Biden on Wednesday tweeted his sympathy to the victims and those impacted by saying, "what we do know is that the Asian-American community is feeling enormous pain tonight."

He added: "The recent attacks against the community are un-American. They must stop."

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Below is Biden's full proclamation:

"As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated on March 16, 2021, in the Atlanta Metropolitan area, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, March 22, 2021.  I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twenty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-fifth."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.