ATLANTA (AP) — Shootings at two massage parlours in Atlanta and one in the suburbs on Tuesday evening left eight people dead, many of them women of Asian descent, authorities said. A 21-year-old man suspected in the shootings was taken into custody in southwest Georgia hours later after a manhunt, police said.
The attacks began around 5pm, when five people were shot at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor in a strip mall near a rural area in Acworth, about 50 kilometres north of Atlanta, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Captain Jay Baker said. Two people died at the scene and three were transported to a hospital where two of them also died, Baker said.
No one was arrested at the scene.
Around 5.50pm, police in the Buckhead neighbourhood of Atlanta, responding to a call of a robbery in progress, found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds at Gold Spa.
While they were at that scene, they learned of a call reporting shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, and found a woman who appeared to have been shot dead inside the business.
“It appears that they may be Asian,” Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in statement yesterday that its diplomats in Atlanta have confirmed from police that four of the victims who died were women of Korean descent. The ministry said the office of its Consulate General in Atlanta is trying to confirm the nationality of the women.
The killings came amid a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States (US).
“Our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence,” Governor Brian Kemp said on Tuesday evening on Twitter.
A man suspected in the Acworth shooting was captured by surveillance video pulling up to the business around 4.50pm on Tuesday, minutes before the attack, authorities said.