Spa shooting suspect’s parents helped authorities catch him

03/17/2021 —Atlanta, Georgia — Atlanta Police Department interim Chief Rodney Bryant makes remarks during a press conference at the Atlanta Police Department Headquarters in Atlanta, Wednesday, March 17, 2021.  A 21-year-old man from Woodstock, who was captured in South Georgia on Tuesday night, is the suspect in three metro Atlanta massage parlor shootings that left eight people dead, authorities said. Robert Aaron Long was first identified as the suspect in the shooting at Young’s Asian Massage Parlor in Cherokee County that left four people dead and one person injured, according to the sheriff’s office. He is also a suspect in two more shootings at similar businesses in northeast Atlanta that resulted in four more deaths, according to a sheriff’s office spokesman.
Six of the eight victims were Asian women, authorities said. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
03/17/2021 —Atlanta, Georgia — Atlanta Police Department interim Chief Rodney Bryant makes remarks during a press conference at the Atlanta Police Department Headquarters in Atlanta, Wednesday, March 17, 2021. A 21-year-old man from Woodstock, who was captured in South Georgia on Tuesday night, is the suspect in three metro Atlanta massage parlor shootings that left eight people dead, authorities said. Robert Aaron Long was first identified as the suspect in the shooting at Young’s Asian Massage Parlor in Cherokee County that left four people dead and one person injured, according to the sheriff’s office. He is also a suspect in two more shootings at similar businesses in northeast Atlanta that resulted in four more deaths, according to a sheriff’s office spokesman. Six of the eight victims were Asian women, authorities said. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Once Cherokee County deputies received a surveillance capture of Robert Aaron Long leaving Young’s Asian Massage near Acworth Tuesday afternoon, the trail of the suspected killer grew red hot.

Long’s parents contacted the Cherokee sheriff’s office to identify their son. They also informed deputies that a tracking device could lead authorities to his vehicle, a Hyundai Tucson. Cherokee sheriff’s spokesman Jay Baker said he didn’t know why Long was being tracked, or if he was aware of it.

They do know that, without the GPS tracker, and his parents’ cooperation, Long, accused of fatally shooting eight people Tuesday at three metro Atlanta massage parlors, would not have been apprehended so quickly, Baker said. Long was captured in Crisp County, about 150 miles south of Atlanta, en route to Florida, “perhaps to carry out additional shootings,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at a press conference Wednesday.

“This could’ve been significantly worse,” Bottoms said. “It’s very likely there would’ve been more victims.”

Long, 21, told police he battled a sexual addiction and frequented the three parlors where the victims, all but two Asian women, were shot and killed. Baker said investigators do not believe Long was driven by racial animus.

Baker said Long viewed Florida as a hub for the porn industry and “an outlet for something he shouldn’t be doing,” Baker said. The Atlanta area spas were “temptations to him he wanted to eliminate,” said Baker.

As Cherokee deputies were meeting with Long’s parents, Atlanta police were responding to a robbery call at Gold’s Spa on Piedmont Road. They arrived to find three dead bodies at Gold’s and another across the street, at Aromatherapy Spa. Atlanta police were able to use video footage to identify Long’s car parked outside both locations at the time of the shootings.

Long was heading south at this time. The Georgia State Patrol and Crisp County Sheriff Bill Hancock, contacted by Cherokee Sheriff Frank Reynolds, were waiting for him.

Around 8:30 p.m., troopers and Crisp deputies spotted Long’s dark-colored Hyundai heading south on I-75 near Cordele. After a short chase, troopers performed a PIT maneuver, in which they force a fleeing car to turn sideways abruptly, causing the driver to lose control and stop. Long was arrested without incident.

Police found a 9 MM firearm in his vehicle. He purchased the gun from Big Woods Goods in Holly Springs, the store confirmed.

“We’re cooperating with the ATF and local enforcement,” said an employee who didn’t give his name. “That’s pretty much all we’re willing to say right now.”

ExploreWhat is the PIT, or Precision Immobilization Technique?

Police say Long admitted to the killings and said he was acting alone. He was transferred back to Cherokee County, where he will be arraigned Thursday.

“He was pretty much fed up, at the end of his rope and this was a very bad day for him and this is what he did,” Baker said.

Staff writer Joshua Sharpe contributed to this article.

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