Discussion of anti-Asian attacks surface upon recent shooting

Photo courtesy of Jason Leung, Unsplash

Last Tuesday, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long barged into Young’s Asian Massage in the town of Acworth, Ga. He opened fire on individuals inside the building, killing two people. Another two died on the way to the hospital from gunshot wounds. 

The suspect was later seen again in Atlanta’s Gold Spa through surveillance footage. Long initially attempted robbery, but began shooting after an informant dialed Atlanta police. Three more people died while Long escaped to the neighboring Aromatherapy Spa. 

The sounds created by Long’s gun sparked the attention of the police. Upon their arrival in the latter spa, they discovered a woman dead. 

An analysis conducted by Atlanta and Acworth police disclosed Long as the suspect behind the spa attacks, as he was seen on security cameras. Police officers later arrested Long as he attempted to flee Atlanta that same night. 

In custody, Long claimed that his attacks were not racially motivated. Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office defended Long’s claim but does not reject the possibility of anti-Asian attacks as a factor. 

"He does have an issue… a sex addiction and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places, and it's a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” Baker said. 

Long says he realized his sex addiction was the source of his psychological damage. He wanted to expunge his fetish through his crimes. The recent rise in anti-Asian attacks challenges this narrative. 

CBS News data reveals a 150% increase in anti-Asian attacks from 2020. Anti-racist group Stop Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Hate further remarked that a disproportionate number of victims were Asian women. People in this category were the most affected by Long’s shootings, which some prove as Long’s racist intention to attack Asian women. 

Six out of the eight individuals who died were identified were female individuals of Asian descent. The South Korean Foreign Ministry stated that four people—Hyun-Jung Grant, Sun-Cha Kim, Soon-Chung “Julie” Park and Yong Yue—were South Korean nationals. 

The Asian victims of the Gold Spa shooting—Xiaojie “Emily" Tan and Daoyou Feng—were Chinese immigrants. A Caucasian man and woman, Paul Andre Michels and Delaina Yaun, also died alongside Feng and Tan. Elcias “Alex” Hernandez-Ortiz, a Guatemalan immigrant, was the only survivor. 

Observers have been worrying about frequent attacks directed against the AAPI community since the propagation of the coronavirus into the US. Some assert former President Trump and other politicians’ usage of pejoratives such as “Kung Flu” and “Chinese/Wuhan virus” have encouraged racists to falsely pinpoint Chinese and other Asian Americans as coronavirus sources. Frustration with high COVID rates manifests by attacking Asians. 

In light of the Atlanta-Acworth shootings, the reporters of Ramapo News stand in solidarity with the AAPI community and denounce the rampant racism directed toward them.