A deadly attack on a number of spas in Atlanta back in March caught the nation by surprise. The attack came as the country was reopening from the chaotic lockdowns of 2020, and seemed to come at the most inopportune time for an economy struggling to get back on its feet. The suspect, Robert Aaron Long, could now be facing hate crime charges.
Many of the victims of the attack were Asian women. The women targeted by Long all worked at one of the three spas he targeted in his March 16 crime spree. Eight people in total were injured and subsequently died during the shootings. Prosecutors will be seeking the death penalty for Long, who was recently indicted on murder charges.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis actually ran on a platform of never invoking the death penalty, under any circumstances. However, Long’s case has changed her mind in this regard.
However, as Willis stated during a Tuesday press conference,”[…] A case has arisen in the first few months of my term that I believe warrants the ultimate penalty, and we shall seek it.” Critical to the sentencing is that prosecutors insist Long selected his target because of their ethnicity and gender. They allege that he specifically chose Asian women due to a specific hatred he harbored for them.
Notably, Willis pointed out that this would be the first time Georgia’s newest hate crime laws were applied to a case in Fulton County. She believes this indicates “everyone in this community is valued.”
In the wake of 2020’s unusual global medical situation, authorities have reported an uptick in anti-Asian hate crime. Many law enforcement agencies believe this uptick is directly related to the global lockdown since the situation started in Wuhan, China. This, authorities believe, has spurred on hatred for Asian people, with some criminals attacking Asian Americans out of fear that they would get sick from close contact with them.
An official motive for Long’s crime has not been given by authorities. Long himself has suggested that he targeted the spas because they offered him a specific target for his self-described addiction. The distance between the spa locations, however, has ruled out the defense that Long’s actions were a crime of passion; at one point, he had to drive some thirty miles between spas.
As of the time of this writing, it is unclear what Long’s sentence for his crimes will be. However, one way or another, justice is being served for the eight people who lost their lives.