Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday condemned the attacks on three Atlanta-area massage parlors that left eight people dead, including six Asian women.
“Whether it is senseless violence that we’ve seen play out in our streets, or more targeted violence like we saw yesterday, a crime against any community is a crime against us all,” Bottoms said at a news conference.
Law enforcement officials in Georgia Wednesday said the shootings do not appear to be racially motivated but stressed the investigation into the deadly shootings is ongoing. A 21-year-old male suspect in the shootings was taken into custody Tuesday night following a police chase.
Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County sheriff’s office said that the man claims to have a sex addiction and that the businesses were a “temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”
“It is still early on, but those were comments that he made,” Baker said, adding that investigators have not found potential political or religious motivation for the attacks.
The shootings Tuesday came amid heightened concern about a rise in hate crimes against people of Asian descent in recent months and immediately posed questions about why the particular locations were chosen. At least one victim survived the attack but remains hospitalized.
Bottoms said that regardless of what fueled the violence, the fear and outrage it induced needs to be addressed.
“Whatever the motivation was for this guy, we know that many of the victims, [the] majority of the victims were Asian,” she said. “We also know that this is an issue that is happening across the country. It is unacceptable. It is hateful, and it has to stop.”
The Atlanta mayor says she has been in contact with the White House in the aftermath of the shootings, and the Biden administration said early Wednesday that the president has been briefed on the “horrific” situation.
President Joe Biden told reporters that he will address the topic later Wednesday, and Vice President Kamala Harris said it was "tragic."
"It speaks to a larger issue, which is the issue of violence in our country, and what we must do to never tolerate it and to always speak out against it," the vice president said. "I do want to say to our Asian-American community that we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged all people."
Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) released a statement Wednesday saying he is "heartbroken" for the victims and their families.
"While the motive for last night’s terrible violence remains under investigation, I express my love and support for and stand in solidarity with the Asian-American community, which has endured a shocking increase in violence and harassment over the last year," Ossoff said.
Bottoms added that the man may have planned to cross into Florida at the time he was apprehended.
“For as tragic as this was on yesterday, it could have been worse,“ she said. “It is very likely that there would have been more victims on yesterday.”
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