A Fulton County grand jury indicted 22-year-old Robert Aaron Long for the murder of 69-year-old Sun Cha Kim on March 16; Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; and Yong Ae Yue, 63. The indictment only covers the four murders that occurred at two spas in Atlanta, and not the attack in Cherokee County in which Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44 years old; Delaina Yaun, 33; and Paul Michels, 54, were killed.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis also filed a notice that she intends to press hate crime charges and the death penalty against Long, who is white. Hate crime charges are based on actual or perceived race, national origin, sex and gender, according to online records. Georgia’s new hate crime law does not provide for a separate hate crime. After a person is convicted of an underlying crime, a jury must determine if it is a hate crime, which carries an additional penalty.
The indictment charges Long with four counts of murder, four counts of felony murder, five counts of assault with a deadly weapon, four counts of possession of a firearm while committing a felony, and one count of domestic terrorism. according to online records.
It will be up to a separate grand jury in Cherokee County to decide charges in the shooting at a spa near suburban Woodstock in which four were killed and one person injured.
Willis’s decision to seek the death penalty deviates from his stance during his campaign to be a district attorney last year.
During a candidates forum last year, Willis answered yes when asked, “Will you agree to refuse to seek the death penalty?”
Police have said Long Shot and killed four people, three of them women and two of Asian descent, at Youngs Asian Massage near Woodstock just before 5 p.m. on March 16. He also shot and wounded a fifth person, investigators said.
He then drove about 30 miles (50 km) south to Atlanta, where he shot and killed three women at Gold Spa before crossing the street to Aromatherapy Spa and fatally shooting another woman, police said. All of the Atlanta victims were women of Asian descent.
After the shootings at the two Atlanta resorts, Long got back in his car and headed south on the interstate, police said.
Long’s parents called authorities for help after recognizing their son in still images from the security video that the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office posted on social media. They provided cell phone information that allowed authorities to trace their son to rural Crisp County, about 140 miles (225 km) south of Atlanta.
State troopers and sheriff’s deputies saw his SUV on Interstate 75, and one of them forced Long to stop by striking his vehicle. Long then surrendered to the authorities.
In an initial interview with investigators, Long claimed to have a “sex addiction” and authorities said he apparently lashed out at businesses that he considered a temptation.
But those statements sparked outrage and widespread skepticism given the locations and that six of the eight victims were women of Asian descent.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism