Tags: Law Enforcement | Mass Shootings | atlanta | shooting | women | asian | hate crime

NBC: Feds Don't Have Enough Evidence to Convict Atlanta Shooter of Hate Crime

The Gold Spa, one day after a gunman shot and killed eight people at three separate Atlanta spa locations March 1
The Gold Spa, one day after a gunman shot and killed eight people at three separate Atlanta spa locations March 17. (Virginie Kippelen/Getty Images)

By    |   Sunday, 21 March 2021 10:41 PM

Several law enforcement officials told NBC News on Sunday they have not found enough concrete evidence to convict the man accused of killing eight people, mostly Asian women, in Atlanta-area massage businesses, of a federal hate crime.

Six of the 8 people killed were of Asian descent and 7 were women.

The suspect, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, told investigators he had a "sex addiction" and carried out the shootings because he saw the businesses he targeted as a "temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate."

He is white.

The Associated Press on Friday first reported the constraints in filing hate crime charges.

Federal statutes require prosecutors to prove that the victims were targeted because of specific factors, like race, gender identity, religion, national origin or sexual orientation, or the suspect infringed on a federally or constitutionally protected activity. To successfully prosecute a hate crimes case, prosecutors typically seek tangible evidence, such as the suspect expressing racism in text messages, in Internet posts or to witnesses.

No such evidence has yet surfaced in the Georgia probe, according to the officials, who have direct knowledge of the investigation into Long. They were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Friday.

Three of the women died at the Gold Spa in Atlanta, while the fourth woman died across the street at Aromatherapy Spa. Four other people were killed, and one was wounded at Youngs Asian Massage near Woodstock, in Atlanta's northwestern suburbs. Their deaths come as crimes against Asian Americans are spiking.

Police said Long visited two of the spas where four of the women were killed.

Many political leaders and civil rights activists condemned last week's attack as an act of terror.

"I don't want to draw any conclusions, but it's obvious to me that if 6 victims were Asian women, that was a target," Georgia State Rep. Calvin Smyre, a Democrat, told The New York Times.

President Joe Biden in a speech Friday expressed grief for the victims, saying the shooting was part of a "skyrocketing spike" in violence against Asian-Americans. He also pushed for Congress to pass hate crime legislation in response to violence against the minority group.

"They've been attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed; they've been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed," Biden said from Atlanta after meeting with Asian-American leaders. "It's been a year of living in fear for their lives."

There have been roughly 3,800 anti-Asian bias incidents since March 2020 when the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic due to the novel coronavirus, according to the Stop AAPI Hate Project.

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Several law enforcement officials told NBC News on Sunday they have not found enough concrete evidence to convict the man accused of killing eight people, mostly Asian women, in Atlanta-area massage businesses, of a federal hate crime.
atlanta, shooting, women, asian, hate crime
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2021-41-21
Sunday, 21 March 2021 10:41 PM
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