Atlanta shootings: eight killed as suspect caught after high-speed pursuit

After horrific attacks at a massage parlour and two spas, police co-ordinate to intercept fleeing suspect

Eight dead after string of shootings in Atlanta

Eight dead after string of shootings in Atlanta
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Eight people were shot dead in shootings at a massage parlour and two spas on Tuesday. Many of the victims were women of Asian descent, authorities said.

Hours later a 21-year-old man suspected in the shootings was taken into custody in south-west Georgia after a manhunt, police said.

The attacks began about 5pm, when five people were shot at Youngs Asian Massage Parlour in a strip mall near a rural area in Acworth, about 50 kilometres north of Atlanta, Cherokee County Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt Jay Baker said.

Two people died at the scene and three were taken to a hospital where two of them died, Capt Baker said.

About 5.50pm, police in the Buckhead neighbourhood of Atlanta, responding to a call of a robbery in progress, found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds at Gold Spa.

While they were at that scene, they learnt of a call reporting shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, and found a woman who appeared to have been shot dead inside the business.

“It appears that they may be Asian,” Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said.

The killings came amid a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States.

“Our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence,” Governor Brian Kemp said on Twitter on Tuesday evening.

A man suspected in the Acworth shooting was captured by surveillance video pulling up to the business about 4.50pm on Tuesday, minutes before the attack, authorities said.

Capt Baker said the suspect, Robert Aaron Long of Woodstock, was taken into custody in Crisp County, about 240 kilometres south of Atlanta.

Capt Baker said they believe Mr Long to be the suspect in the Atlanta shootings as well.

Police said video footage showed the suspect's vehicle in the area of the Atlanta spas about the time of those attacks. That, as well as other video evidence, "suggests it is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County's, who is in custody", Atlanta police said.

Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities were working to confirm the cases are related.

FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said the agency was assisting Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities in the investigation.

Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock said in a video on Facebook that his deputies and state troopers were notified about 8pm that a murder suspect from north Georgia was headed towards their county.

Deputies and troopers set up along the interstate and “made contact with the suspect”, who was driving a 2007 black Hyundai Tucson, about 8.30pm, he said.

A state trooper performed a PIT, or pursuit intervention technique, manoeuvre, “which caused the vehicle to spin out of control”, Mr Hancock said.

Mr Long was taken into custody "without incident" and was being held in the Crisp County jail for Cherokee County authorities who were expected to arrive soon to continue their investigation.

Because of the shootings, Atlanta police said they sent officers to check similar businesses near by and increased patrols in the area.