On Tuesday, March 16, Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old from Woodstock, Georgia, was arrested after gunning down eight people at three massage parlors in Atlanta. Long has confessed to all three attacks, according to Atlanta police.
The shooting, which occurred amid a rise in attacks against Asian-Americans, left six Asian women dead, leading to speculation that it was racially-motivated.
While the motive behind the shooting is not yet known, internet sleuths started going through Long's social media activity to look for clues. Some social media users, for instance, started circulating an image appearing to show a Facebook post in which Long ranted about China's COVID-19 cover-up hours before the shooting.
Fact-Check: The Facebook Post is Fake
We can confirm that the Facebook post is not genuine. We are yet to see any credible reports of Long's personal Facebook account. The Daily Beast reported about an Instagram profile linked to the gunman and his appearances in posts shared by other Facebook accounts, including a video posted by his church, Crabapple First Baptist Church, but the articles makes no mention of Long's personal Facebook account.
New York Times reporter Davey Alba also pointed out that some graphical errors indicated the post was fake. For instance, Long's profile picture in the post is slightly off-centre and the Facebook reaction emojis are also misaligned.
Andy Stone, Facebook's policy communications director, also confirmed that this message was not posted to a Facebook page belonging to Long.
Shooting Motivated by Long's Sex Addiction
"It may be the targets of opportunity... we believe he frequented these places in the past and may have been lashing out," Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said.
Cherokee County Capt. Jay Baker added that Long "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."