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Prosecutors to seek death penalty against Atlanta shooting suspect

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis detailed her plans to seek the death penalty against Robert Long.

Robert Long Crisp County Sheriff’s Office/AF

The suspect who fatally shot eight people, including six Asian women, at three massage parlors in Atlanta may possibly be faced with a death sentence, CNN reported. On Tuesday (May 11), Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis filed a notice detailing her intentions to seek enhanced hate crime charges and the death penalty against 20-year-old Robert Aaron Long.

Back in March, Long trekked to three Asian spas where he proceeded to fire at customers. He intially targeted the Young’s Asian Massage where he killed four people and wounded one person. He moved on to the Gold Massage Spa on Piedmont Road in Atlanta where he fatally shot three people, according to police.

The last person was killed at the Aroma Therapy Spa.

After posting images from the surveillance camera on social media, authorities received help from Long’s family and located him. He’s since been arrested and charged on four counts of malice murder, four counts of felony murder, one count of domestic terrorism, five count of aggravated assault and five counts possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Per the notice, Willis believes the killings are eligible for the death penalty. She said they were “outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible, or inhuman in that it involved depravity of mind,” adding that the crimes were committed as he was in the midst of killing other victims.

Her plans to seek the death penalty comes on the heels of the new hate crime law, which was passed by in Georgia following Ahmaud Arbery’s tragic killing. The law permits judges to impose harsh and enhanced penalties to those whose victims were targeted based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and more. Since six of Long’s victims were women of Asian descent, it was believed that his shootings were considered hate crimes, but he maintained that they were instead the result of his sexual addiction, noting the spas were seen as “a temptation ... that he wanted to eliminate.”

The hate crime penalty for a homicide in Georgia is a life sentence with possibility of parole, the death penalty or a maximum of life without parole, according to Peter Skandalakis, Director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia.

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