Man accused of killing 8, injuring 1 at massage parlor, 2 spas in metro Atlanta arrested, deputies say

The man who law enforcement agencies said is responsible for the deaths of eight people at a massage parlor and two spas in metro Atlanta on Tuesday has been arrested, deputies confirmed.

Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, was taken into custody in Crisp County after driving more than 180 miles, being on the run for almost four hours, and making three deadly stops along the way, investigators said.

It began just before 5 p.m. in Cherokee County, about 25 miles north-northwest of Atlanta. Deputies were called out to Young's Asian Massage parlor located along Georgia Highway 92 near Bells Ferry Road, about a mile west of Woodstock.


Eight people were killed at two Atlanta spas and a Cherokee County massage parlor on March 16, 2021. (FOX 5)

Deputies said they arrived to find five suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. Three were pronounced dead at the scene. Two others were rushed to an area hospital, where one later died.

"We don't believe he was here very long. We think he was in and out," Captain Jay Baker, Cherokee County Sheriff's Office.


Cherokee County deputies released this image of a shooting suspect and vehicle involved in a deadly shooting on March 16, 2021. (Cherokee County Sheriff's Office)

An image released by deputies and timestamped around 4:50 p.m., investigators said, shows Long climbing into a dark-colored 4-door Hyundai Tucson and fleeing the scene.

"We don't know the relationship of the suspect to the victims are. We don't know if this is a random act," said Capt. Baker.


Police investigate a shooting in the 1900 block of Piedmont Road on March 16, 2021. (FOX 5)

At 5:47 p.m., Atlanta police said the city’s 911 call center received a call about a "robbery in progress" at the Gold Spa located in the 1900 block of Piedmont Road. Officers arrived to find three women dead inside.

Moments after officers arrived on the scene, another 911 call, this one at the Aroma Therapy Spa across the street. Police said another woman was found dead there.

All four, investigators said, suffered apparent gunshot wounds.

"We just heard numerous gunshots coming from across the street. They wouldn’t let us out. Of course, I want to know what’s going on. My car’s out here. I want to make sure everyone’s safe," said Narcirema Marcelle, who works in the area.


Investigators work well into the evening after a deadly shooting at a massage parlor in Cherokee County on March 16, 2021. (FOX 5)

Throughout the night, law enforcement officials in both jurisdictions said they kept in contact, but neither could confirm the three deadly shooting scenes were tied together.

Cherokee County deputies said around 8 p.m. the investigation turned. Investigators were able to confirm the name of the suspect and released a photo. That’s also when law enforcement agents in Crisp County, about 150 miles south-southeast of Atlanta, were alerted.


Cherokee County deputies released these images of a vehicle believed to belong to a gunman in a deadly shooting on March 16, 2021. (Cherokee County Sheriff's Office)

"Crisp County deputies along with Georgia State Patrol Troopers out of Post 30-Corelle received information that a murder suspect out of north Georgia was getting close to our county," Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said.

Deputies and troopers set up a net along Interstate 75 to try to catch Long. Around 8:30 p.m., they spotted him and tried to pull him over.

"Georgia State Patrol troopers performed a PIT maneuver, which caused the vehicle to spin out of control," Sheriff Reynolds said adding Long was taken into custody without further incident near Bedgood Road.


Robert Aaron Long (Crisp County Sheriff's Office)

Long was booked into the Crisp County jail.

While investigators said they know who was responsible, they still are unclear as to why this happened.

"We don't know the relationship of the suspect to the victims are. We don't know if this is a random act," said Capt. Baker.

Law enforcement officials hope to know more as they continue to investigate overnight. A joint press conference with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office and Atlanta Police Department is expected Wednesday morning and hopefully will shed more light on the case.


A shopping center was taped off in Cherokee County after a deadly shooting at a massage parlor on March 16, 2021. (FOX 5)

Investigators confirmed they are looking if ethnicity played a part in the cases.

"It appears that they may be Asian," Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said about the four women.

Cherokee County investigators also confirmed two of the women killed were Asian.

These killings happened as a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States have been reported.

Atlanta police and several surrounding jurisdictions confirmed they were stepping up patrols around Asian-owned businesses and communities. It was a ripple that was even felt in New York City as police there confirmed they "will be deploying assets to our great Asian communities across the city out of an abundance of caution."

The two other victims killed in Cherokee County were described only as a white female and a white male. Deputies said a Hispanic male remained in Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta as of Tuesday evening. That is where also many of the victim’s friends and family gathered in prayer.

And while crime in Atlanta has seen a recent spike, the shooting rattled what is normally a quiet suburb.

"This is pretty unusual. In Cherokee County, I think we had one homicide in 2020 and we had three today," Captain Baker said.

In a statement Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms thanked officers for their work in arresting Long, saying "a crime against any community is a crime against us all."

"My prayers are with the families and friends of the victims whose lives were cut short by these shootings," Bottoms said.

The names of the victims have not been released.

It was not immediately clear when Long would make his first appearance.

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