Spa shootings could be first test of Georgia hate crimes law
The murder case against a white man accused of shooting and killing six women of Asian descent and two other people at Atlanta-area massage businesses could become the first big test for Georgia’s new hate crimes law.
ATLANTA — The murder case against a white man charged with shooting and killing six women of Asian descent and two other people at Atlanta-area massage businesses this week could become the first big test for Georgia’s new hate crimes law.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, told police that the attacks Tuesday at two spas in Atlanta and another massage business near suburban Woodstock were not racially motivated and claimed to have a sex addiction. Authorities said he apparently lashed out at what he saw as sources of temptation but were still investigating his motive.
Because most of the victims were women of Asian descent, there’s skepticism of that explanation and public clamoring for hate crime charges, especially among the Asian American community, which has faced rising numbers of attacks since the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
But, like many states, the Georgia law enacted last summer does not provide for a standalone hate crime, instead allowing an additional penalty when a person is convicted of another crime.