Just less than two months after the shootings at three Metro Atlanta massage parlors that led to the death of eight people, 22-year-old alleged gunman Robert Aaron Long has been indicted by grand juries in both Fulton and Cherokee counties. On March 16th, Long allegedly drove to several different spas in the Atlanta area, shooting and killing eight massage workers and patrons, six of whom were Asian women. Long’s horrific killing spree specifically targeted Asian massage parlors, and after his arrest, he reportedly told police that he saw the massage parlors and the women who worked there as “a temptation... that he wanted to eliminate”—a motivation rooted in the long history of anti-Asian violence as well as anti-sex worker violence that specifically marginalizes Asian massage and sex workers.
On Tuesday, Long was indicted on 19 total counts in Fulton county, which included four counts of murder, aggravated assault, domestic terrorism, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a felony. In Cherokee County, Long was indicted on 23 counts, which also included four counts of murder, as well as criminal attempt to commit murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and criminal damage to property in the first degree.
Despite speaking out against capital punishment while campaigning for the position of district attorney, Fulton County DA Fani Willis has filed notice that she plans to seek the death penalty in Long’s case. “Last year, I told the voters of Fulton County that I could not imagine a circumstance where I would seek it,” said Willis during a news conference on Tuesday. “And at that time, I did not. Unfortunately, a case has arisen in the first few months of my term that I believe warrants it.” (Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace has not yet decided whether she will also seek the death penalty.)
Willis also reportedly plans to pursue a hate crime sentence enhancement against Long. This case will be the first test of Georgia’s new hate crime law, which forgoes a hate crime charge, instead allowing prosecutors to add on the sentence enhancement if a person is convicted of another crime.