Police are still investigating whether the metro Atlanta spa shootings, in which most of the victims were Asian women, can be considered a hate crime.
But former Georgia U.S. Attorney BJay Pak, who is the first Korean-American to serve in that position, says investigators need to look into all aspects of what motivated the white, 21-year-old Cherokee County man to target three different Atlanta spas primarily owned by the AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) community.
Pak spoke with WABE’s “All Things Considered” producer Lily Oppenheimer about how Georgia’s new hate crimes law, which was passed amid the Brunswick-area Ahmaud Arbery case, could apply to the case of Robert Aaron Long of Woodstock, Georgia.
As of early Wednesday afternoon, only half of the deceased victims had been publicly identified. The sheriff’s office in Cherokee County identified them as:
- Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, of Acworth
- Paul Andre Michels, 54, of Atlanta
- Xiaojie Yan, 49, of Kennesaw
- Daoyou Feng, 44, of an unknown address
The attacks began Tuesday evening when five people were shot at Young’s Asian Massage Parlor near Woodstock in Cherokee County.
Cherokee County officials announced Wednesday afternoon that Long was charged with four counts of murder and one count of assault in the shootings at Young’s. He has also been charged with murder in Atlanta, where four other women were killed at two other spas. Long is expected to be arraigned Thursday.
Police said Long has confessed to the crime.