Man Charged With 8 Counts Of Murder In Atlanta-Area Spa Shooting Spree

The man accused of killing eight people, including six Asian women, during a Tuesday night rampage at three Atlanta-area spas has been charged with eight counts of murder, authorities said Wednesday. The killings sparked outrage in the Asian American community, which has faced a dramatic spike in violence during the coronavirus pandemic.

Video Transcript

SUZIE SUH: Crimes against Asian-Americans. The murder rampage this week in Atlanta has sparked hearings, rallies, and calls to pass anti-hate legislation.

JUAN FERNANDEZ: "KCAL 9's" Amy Johnson joins us live with the unfolding investigation in Atlanta. Amy.

AMY JOHNSON: Well, Juan and Suzie, along with the morning of those killed, there is criticism about how the investigation is being handled. In fact, one sheriff's department spokesperson is under fire for an anti-Asian Facebook post.

A moment of silence for the eight people murdered at the Atlanta massaged mall. Six of them were Asian women.

[POLICE SIRENS BLARING]

But officials have now backed off their stance that race didn't play a part in the shootings.

CHARLES HAMPTON JR: Our investigation is looking at everything. So nothing is off the table.

AMY JOHNSON: Police say the shooter admitted the he planned the attacks.

CHARLES HAMPTON JR: I would just say that unfortunately they were at that location. I can't say that he specifically targeted those individuals. But you know, what I will say is that he did frequent-- as the question keeps coming up-- that he did frequent those two locations.

AMY JOHNSON: While police are investigating the shooter's motives, Asian-American leaders say their community is devastated.

STEPHANIE CHO: The past two days have been terrible for our community.

AMY JOHNSON: There has also been concern about a Georgia police captain-- Jay Baker's description of the suspect's frame of mind and saying he had a bad day. Now the captain, who was also under fire for an anti-Asian Facebook post, has been relieved of his duties as a spokesperson on the case for the Cherokee Sheriff's Department.

Speaking at a House subcommittee hearing, California Democrat Judy Chu said anti-Asian crime since the start of the pandemic has become a crisis that cannot be ignored.

JUDY CHU: Many of the victims have been older and vulnerable, like Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man in San Francisco, who was killed in an unprovoked assault. Today, we find that there have been nearly 3,800 anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents in just this year alone.

AMY JOHNSON: Actor Daniel Dae Kim called on Congress to pass anti-hate legislation.

DANIEL DAE KIM: What happens right now in over the course of the coming months will send a message for generations to come as to whether we matter-- whether the country we call home chooses to erase us or include us.

AMY JOHNSON: And President Biden has ordered the White House flag be lowered to half staff in honor of the Atlanta victims. He'll travel with Vice President Harris to Georgia on Friday to offer support to a community in pain. Juan.

JUAN FERNANDEZ: All right, Amy, thanks. Well, following those tragic shooting--