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Fact check: Did Robert Long shoot and kill 8 Asian women in Atlanta?

The claim: There were initial news and social media reports, as the tragedy unfolded Tuesday evening, that all the victims were Asian women.

Robert Aaron Long Crisp County Sheriff’s Office and The Boston Globe

Police arrested a 21-year-old man on a killing spree that left eight people dead at three metro Atlanta-area spas Tuesday (March 16) evening.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, officers responded to the shootings in Cherokee County and Atlanta. Authorities have charged Robert Long, according to WXIA-TV, with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault in Cherokee County. He also faces four counts of murder in Atlanta.

The claim: There were initial news and social media reports, as the tragedy unfolded Tuesday, that all the victims were Asian women.

Our rating: That is false. Officers with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office confirmed, according to the AJC, one man, 54-year-old Paul Andre Michaels, was shot and killed during the deadly rampage. Authorities say six of the eight victims were Asian women. The other victim was a white woman.

The shootings began just before 5 p.m. at Young’s Asian Massage Spa in Cherokee County. Two Asian women and two white people were shot and killed inside of the spa. A Hispanic man, 30-year-old Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, was also injured, but is in stable condition at an Atlanta hospital.

The victims at Young Asian’s Massage Spa were identified as the following:

  • Delaina Yaun, 33

- Yaun, according to HuffPost, was on a date with her husband when the shooting happened. They lived together in Acworth, Georgia and had been married for less than a year. She was a mom of two and worked at a local Waffle House restaurant.

  • Xiaojie Tan, 49

- Public records show Tan was a licensed massage therapist and held cosmetology licenses specializing in nails and face treatments. She was a mom of a daughter who recently graduated from the University of Georgia.

  • Daoyou Feng, 44

- Feng recently began working at the spa, according to USA Today.

  • Paul Andre Michels, 54

- Michels was a U.S. Army veteran and had been married for more than 20 years, according to The Daily Beast. He was the owner of an electric company, and his brother said he was thinking of getting into the massage business.

Police say Long then drove to Atlanta, where he shot and killed three people at Gold Spa, and one at Aromatherapy. According to the AJC, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry released a statement on Wednesday (March 17). Its diplomats in Atlanta confirmed all four of these Atlanta victims were of Korean descent. Their names are the following:

  • Soon C. Park, 74
  • Hyun Grant, 51
  • Suncha Kim, 69
  • Yong Yue, 63

Georgia State Patrol troopers, according to WSB-TV, stopped Long’s car just before 8:30 p.m. on I-75 in Crisp County using the PIT maneuver.

The Cherokee County Sheriff said Long claimed the shootings were not racially motivated. However, the shootings have sparked condemnations of misogyny, systemic violence and white supremacy from several AAPI organizations and have resulted in an outpouring of support for the AAPI community from all over the country using hashtags on social media such as #StopAsianHate.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp tweeted that his entire family is praying for the victims, and thanked local and state government for “quick apprehension” of Long.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamalar Harris are meeting with Asian community leaders Friday (March 19).

Our sources:

Atlanta-area spa shootings suspect won’t appear in court Thursday – WXIA-TV

Names released for victims in deadly Cherokee County spa shooting; Atlanta victims not identified – WSB-TV

‘A crime against us all’: Atlanta mayor condemns deadly spa shooting spree – the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia spa shootings: Suspect confesses, claims he was not racially motivated, sheriff says – WSB-TV

Women of Asian Descent Were 6 of the 8 Victims in Atlanta Shootings – New York Times

Atlanta Spa Shootings: What We Know about the Victims - HuffPost

Newlyweds’ romantic night at Atlanta massage parlor turned to terror – The Daily Beast

Atlanta spa shooting updates: 4 more victims identified, Biden, Harris to meet with Asian American leaders – USA Today

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