Robert Aaron Long, 21, the suspect in three metro Atlanta massage parlor shootings that left eight people dead, has been arrested in South Georgia on Tuesday night.
Long was first identified as the suspect in the shooting at Young's Asian Massage Parlor in Cherokee County after opening fire at five people inside the establishment on Tuesday at about 5 p.m., killing four and injuring one person.
He then drove to a nearby Atlanta suburb and shot dead four more people at two additional Asian spas, Gold Spa and Aroma Therapy. According to Heavy, six of the eight victims were Asian, and police are investigating whether the shootings were racially motivated.
He was later taken into custody in Crisp County following a police chase nearly 200 miles away. Surveillance footage showed Long fleeing the scene of Young's Asian Massage Parlor, which helped officials identify him as the suspect in the Atlanta shootings and spot his vehicle in Crisp County.
Long's Grandfather Died of COVID-19?
While the motive behind Long's shooting rampage is not yet known, social media users are pushing the theory that the massacre may have something to do with his grandfather's demise.
According to one Twitter user, a 74-year-old man named Robert R. Long died in May 2020 in Cherokee County and a man named Rob is listed as one of his six surviving grandchildren, leading to speculation that the shooting incident may have been fueled by racism after Long's grandfather died due to COVID-19.
What further fueled speculation is that over the last year, racist attacks on Asian-American communities have surged with as many as 4,000 reported incidents, fueled by news that the virus originated from China.
The Twitter user's claim appears to be far-fetched. The obituary mentions that the deceased is survived by three children, all daughters, which means that his grandson would not share the "Long" surname. Also, the obituary mentions a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which suggests Robert. R. Long may have died of cancer.
Reporters at a press conference with the Atlanta Police Department asked whether racism due to the coronavirus may have been the motive behind the shootings. However, police said it was too early to pinpoint a motive.