SEOUL — President Joe Biden’s top national security officials, speaking after meetings with their South Korean counterparts early Thursday, condemned the spate of murders targeting Asian Americans in Atlanta this week.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his “outrage and grief” over the deaths of eight people, including four of Korean descent, during a joint press conference with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their hosts.
“We stand with the Korean community and everyone united against violence and hate,” Blinken said.
Austin also condemned what he dubbed a “horrific crime.”
“I am saddened by the horrific attacks in Atlanta, Ga., yesterday, where we believe several women of Korean descent were killed,” said the first Black Pentagon chief. “Our deepest sympathies go out to all those affected by this horrific crime and especially the families of those who were killed. I share my colleague’s view that violence of this or any other type has no place in our society.”
The South Korean ministers of foreign affairs and defense also expressed their regrets about the attack.
Eight people, all but one of them women, were killed at three Atlanta spas on Tuesday in a shooting spree believed to be carried out by Robert Aaron Long, who has been charged with eight counts of murder.
Long’s motivations are not yet clear, but the victims’ backgrounds have raised fears that racial bias may have come into play. Violence against Asian Americans has been high in recent months amid the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Long told investigators the killings were not racially motivated.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also condemned the attack on Wednesday and acknowledged the ethnicity of the victims.
“We know [violence against Asian Americans] is an issue that’s happening around the country; it is unacceptable, it is hateful, and it has to stop,” she said.
Long was arrested Tuesday night about 150 miles south of the city.
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