Robert Aaron Long, the 21-year-old white gunman who has been charged with eight counts of murder after three shootings on Tuesday at Atlanta-area spas, indicated to authorities that he had issues with "sex addiction," according to investigators. So much so that Long had also been in rehab for sex addiction and was wracked with guilt about his sexual urges, according to two people who lived with him in transitional housing.
Georgia authorities said that Long himself also claimed "sex addiction" as the reason behind the shooting and that he wasn't racially motivated. Long allegedly shot six women and two men — at three different Georgia spas on Tuesday although six of the eight killed were women of Asian descent.
While investigators in Atlanta continue to piece together what actually motivated Long to allegedly shoot and kill eight people at three different spas, he told police that he identifies as a sex addict. Long told investigators that he wanted to get rid of what he saw as temptations that were haunting him.
"He apparently has an issue, what he considers a sex addiction, and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places, and it's a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate," Cherokee County sheriff's Capt. Jay Baker said.
At the same time, Long's former housemates also claim that sex addiction was the motivation for his attack. However, they do not preclude something else being a motive in the shootings. According to a USA Today report, Long was deeply religious and could not control his urge to visit massage parlors and engage in sexual acts, something that sent him into deep bouts of depression, said Tyler Bayless, who lived with Long for six months between 2019 and 2020 at Maverick Recovery Center in Roswell, Georgia.
Bayless also said that Long would frequently relapse and then express guilt because of his Christian faith. "He would say, 'I've done it again' and it just ate away at him," Bayless said. "He felt absolutely merciless remorse."
Bronson Lillemon, another housemate who lived with Long for three months in 2020, also echoed Bayless' comments. "He felt a lot of guilt, and a lot of shame," Lillemon said. "I don't know the specific massage parlors that he went to, but I would assume that the ones he shot up were the ones he went to."
The two former housemates also claimed that they never heard Long using racist language and wouldn't speak much. He also didn't stay online much and to their knowledge didn't frequent racist internet message boards or websites.
At the same time claims have been made that Long was a weapon enthusiast. Bayless said that he was "shocked, but not surprised" when he came to know that Long had been involved in a mass shooting. He reportedly said that Long was a gun enthusiast, and recalled him telling a story about receiving his first gun for his eighth or ninth birthday.
Long, as of now, is reportedly cooperating with investigators. A law enforcement official told CNN that Long's family had recently booted him from the house because of his sexual addiction. He reportedly spent hours watching pornography.
Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said it was too early to classify the shootings as hate crimes. Asian spas in the United States often offer sexual gratification for money, but police haven't said anything about if the spas involved in the shootings offered sex.