GA man pleads guilty to four murders in spa shootings

A Georgia man who claimed to be addicted to sex pleaded guilty on Tuesday of murdering four people as part of a shooting spree at Atlanta-area spas that ended the life of eight people, six of them women of Asian descent.

Dressed in a white-button-down shirt, 22-year-old Robert Aaron Long pleaded guilty in court to the four murders at the day spa in Cherokee County, about 40 miles north of Atlanta.

Long has also been charged in the killings of four other people - all women - at spas in Atlanta, where the district attorney there has said she believed the women were targeted because of their race, national origin and gender and would seek the death penalty.

The March 16 killings galvanized awareness of a wave of anti-Asian bias and violence in the United States in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which is believed to have originated in China.

But in Cherokee County, District Attorney Shannon Wallace said her office's investigation did not turn up any bias based on race or gender, saying the case was not “any kind of hate crime”.

Instead Cherokee officials have tied the killings to sex addiction.

In his first public comments since the massacre, Long calmly described how he purchased a firearm and a bottle of bourbon and set out to kill himself before deciding to harm the sex industry to which he had a self-proclaimed addiction.

As part of his plea agreement, Long will face four life sentences without possibility of parole, to be served consecutively, plus 35 years on other charges.

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