Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday said hate crime charges may be appropriate for the man who went on a shooting rampage at three local spas, killing eight people, six of whom were Asian women.
Bottoms was asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer whether she personally believed the case should be prosecuted as a hate crime, noting that Georgia law imposes additional penalties for crimes motivated by a victim’s sex.
“I think whatever the stiffest, most appropriate charges there are, this guy should face those charges,” Bottoms replied during the interview on the “Situation Room.”
“In Georgia, you can be charged with a hate crime. It covers a variety of areas, and I personally think it would be appropriate, but I will defer to the prosecutors to make that determination.”
Robert Aaron Long, 21, was charged Wednesday with eight counts of murder in connection with the attacks.
He told police that the brazen shootings were not racially motivated and claimed to have a “sex addiction.” Authorities said he apparently lashed out Tuesday at what he saw as sources of his “temptation.” All but one of his victims were women.
12Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks about the spa shootings during a press conference on March 17, 2021.
Megan Varner/Getty Images
But Bottoms said she was taking the gunman’s claims about his motivations “with a grain of salt.”
“This is a man who murdered eight people in cold blood so it is very difficult to believe what he said,” the mayor told Blitzer.
“It’s difficult to ignore the fact that many of the victims were Asian … and that he targeted these Asian massage parlors,” she added.
“And so I’ll leave it up to the prosecutors to determine what other appropriate charges may be warranted as it relates to hate crimes,” Bottoms continued, “but it’s very difficult to ignore that the Asian community has once again been targeted.”
The mayor also thanked law enforcement for their work in apprehending Long, who, according to authorities, was heading to Florida to possibly continue the carnage at a porn business.
“This could have been so much worse,” Bottoms said, adding, “there was tremendous coordination across jurisdictions in our state, and so, for as tragic as it is and has been for the metropolitan Atlanta-area, we’re grateful that it was not any worse.”
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