Police in Georgia sought further clues on Thursday to the motive in the fatal shootings of eight people, six of them Asian women, at Atlanta-area spas that heightened concern over a recent surge of hate crimes directed at Asian Americans.
Addiction not racism
The 21-year-old accused gunman, Robert Aaron Long, who is white, suggested to investigators that a sex addiction led him to carry out Tuesday's violent rampage at three spas - two of them in Atlanta and one in Cherokee County about 40 miles (64 km) north of Georgia's state capitol, authorities said.
Attacks were motivated
Authorities have not ruled out the possibility that the attacks were motivated at least in part by some other grievance including anti-immigrant or anti-Asian sentiments.
The Atlanta Police Department said in a statement on Wednesday night: "Our investigation is far from over and we have not ruled anything out."
A short manhunt
Surveillance footage released by police shows Long, wearing glasses and a red and navy blue hoodie, getting into a Hyundai Tucson car near one of the crime scenes.
Long was apprehended about 150 miles (240 kilometers) south of Atlanta several hours after the shootings.
When he was caught Long was on his way to Florida, perhaps to carry out more shootings targeting "some type of porn industry," Baker said.
It was Long's parents who contacted police after his photo was released Tuesday announcing he was a suspect and they helped identify him.
Authorities have charged Long with four counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault in the first of the three shootings, which took place in a suburb north of Atlanta, US media reported.
Additionally, Atlanta police said they have charged Long with four counts of murder in the subsequent attacks at two spas in the city.
Long was set to be arraigned Thursday morning.
Triggered an outcry
The shootings triggered an outcry from civil rights advocates and some political leaders, including US President Joe Biden, who condemned a rise in incidents of anti-Asian discrimination and violence since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Tributes pour in
People placed flowers, candles, and signs in front of Atlanta's Gold Spa where a gunman killed three Asian women on Tuesday evening.
"This whole past year and a half, just with everything that's happened in this country, from Black Lives Matter to all this stuff happening to Asian people, it's just very sad," said Atlanta resident, Fred Morris, who works nearby. "It needs to stop."
Prayers for victims
Worshippers offer prayers for victims of the Atlanta spa shooting in addition to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic at the Mahayana Buddhist temple in Chinatown, New York City.