The 21-year-old suspect in the 16 March spa mass shootings in Atlanta, Robert Aaron Long, is believed to have been planning a trip to Florida to carry out more attacks, Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has said. The mayor praised the efforts of law enforcement, who managed to detain the shooter and thus prevent "significantly worse" crimes in Atlanta.
The city sheriff's spokesman in turn stated that the attacker was planning to hit "some type of porn industry" in Florida. The law enforcement spokesman added that Robert Aaron Long has a "sexual addiction" and was a frequent visitor to massage parlours.
The police official said they suspect the perpetrator was seeking to eliminate the "temptation" these facilities were presenting him with, but it is unclear whether the attacked spas were providing some kind of sex-related services to their clients. Georgia officials have so far found no strong evidence that the attacker had a racial motive, but have still not ruled out a hate crime.
The attacks, which took place overnight between 16 and 17 March, left eight people dead, with six of them being Asian women. The latter fact sparked suspicions that the shooter had racial motives.
The head of the FBI, Christopher Wray, will brief President Joe Biden on the Atlanta shootings later in the day, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said earlier. US Vice President Kamala Harris called the shootings "tragic" and added that she and POTUS were grieving for the dead. While she noted that there is so far no clear motive for the attack, she expressed solidarity with Asian-Americans, citing a rise in the number of hate crimes in the country.
The massage parlour massacre started at around 5pm local time, when Long killed four people and injured another at Young's Asian Massage in Cherokee County not far from Atlanta. He then apparently moved to Georgia's capital city itself, killing three more women at the Gold Spa beauty salon an hour later.
As officers were investigating a "robbery in progress" call for the said parlour, they were summoned over another call about the nearby Aromatherapy Spa, where they found the last of the eight victims. The shooter was later apprehended after travelling 150 miles (240 km) south of Atlanta.