Barack Obama weighed in on the tragic shootings that took place in Atlanta on Tuesday (March 16) that left eight people dead, six of whom were Asian women.
On Wednesday (March 17), the former president took to Twitter to condemn the shootings and to point out that America has neglected the fight against gun violence. “Even as we’ve battled the pandemic, we’ve continued to neglect the longer-lasting epidemic of gun violence in America,” he tweeted. “Although the shooter’s motive is not yet clear, the identity of the victims underscores an alarming rise in anti-Asian violence that must end.”
In a follow-up tweet, Obama wrote, “Yesterday’s shootings are another tragic reminder that we have far more work to do to put in place commonsense gun safety laws and root out the pervasive patterns of hatred and violence in our society.”
He then added that he and his wife Michelle are praying for the victims, “their families, everyone grieving these needless and devastating killings — and we urge meaningful action that will save lives.”
On Tuesday night (March 16), authorities in Atlanta arrested 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long for the shooting spree. He allegedly targeted multiple massage parlors in the area, but says the acts were not racially motivated. Instead, he claims he has a “sexual addiction” and the parlors were a “temptation” he wanted to “eliminate.” Long also told investigators that he was on his way to Florida to “do more acts” there.
As the investigation continues, authorities say it’s too early to determine if the shootings are a hate crime. According to The Hill, Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting center that follows hate crime incidents against Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans, said they have received almost 3,800 accounts of anti-Asian hate since March 2020, which is when the COVID-19 pandemic began to sweep the United States.
Check out Obama’s tweets below.