© Reuters. Police vehicles are seen in this image provided on the Twitter account of Cherokee Sheriff’s Office
By Dan Whitcomb and Steve Gorman
(Reuters) – Eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, were shot dead at a massage parlor and two day spas in the Atlanta area on Tuesday, and a man suspected of carrying out all of the attacks was arrested hours later in southern Georgia, police said.
The rampage began at about 5 p.m. local time when four victims were killed and another was wounded in a shooting at Young’s Asian Massage in Cherokee County, about 40 miles north of Atlanta, said Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department.
Two women of Asian descent were among the dead there, along with a white woman and a white man, Baker said, adding that the surviving victim was an Hispanic man.
In Atlanta, the state capital, police officers responding to a call of a “robbery in progress” shortly before 6 p.m. arrived at a beauty spa to find three women shot dead, Police Chief Rodney Bryant told reporters.
While investigating the initial shooting report, the officers were called to a second spa across the street where a fourth woman was found dead of a gunshot wound, Bryant said. All four victims slain in Atlanta were of Asian descent.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock in Cherokee County, was taken into custody at about 8:30 p.m. in Crisp County, about 150 miles (240 km) south of Atlanta.
Baker said investigators were “very confident” that the same suspect was the gunman in all three shootings. Long was spotted in southern Georgia, far from the crime scenes, after police in Cherokee County issued an all-points bulletin providing a description and license plates of the getaway vehicle.
Long was arrested without incident after a highway pursuit by Georgia state police and Crisp County Sheriff’s deputies, who used a tactical driving maneuver to bring the suspect’s vehicle to a halt, sheriff’s officials said later.
Authorities did not offer a possible motive for the shooting rampage, and said they did not immediately know if the victims were targeted because of their race or ethnicity.
A spokesman for the Atlanta field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said the agency was assisting police in Cherokee County and Atlanta.
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