The suspect in the horrific shooting killings of eight people in several spas in Atlanta in March pleaded guilty to four of the murders and will serve four life sentences.
On Tuesday, Cherokee County Superior Court Chief Judge Ellen McElyea ruled the decision for the suspect, Robert Aaron Long. The sentence was given more than four months after the March 16 incident where Long entered and began to shoot individuals inside the Young Asians Massage.
Atlanta Spa Shootings
Long's four victims were 33-year-old Delaina Ashley Yaun, 54-year-old Paul Andre Michels, 49-year-old Xiajie Tan, and 44-year-old Daoyou Feng. The suspect is also accused of fatally shooting four other people at two spas in Atlanta on that same day.
During the proceeding, a deal was announced that included the guilty plea and the four life sentences. The suspect was indicted on 23 charges related to the deadly March 16 shootings, including malicious murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault. Despite several of the charges against Long set to either merge or be vacated by law, he later pleaded guilty to all of them as part of a deal, NBC News reported.
Long described his recollection of the incident as first feeling hopeless and suicidal due to his addiction to sex. He later purchased a gun and ammo, drove to a liquor store to buy drinks, and traveled to Young Asian Massage, where he said he previously received sexual services. The suspect allegedly stayed inside his car for about an hour drinking alcohol and deciding whether to kill himself or the people in the spa.
After making up his mind, he went into the spa and got a "service" in the back room, he said in court. He went to the bathroom afterward to clean himself up and began to shoot people after he came out. Long noted he did not know any of the victims that he shot and killed. When asked about the duration of the attack, the suspect said he felt like it was no more than five minutes since the first shot; he then left the establishment immediately, CNN reported.
The suspect's recollection of the incident is the first set of first-hand details of the shooting, which occurred at a spa located 30 miles outside Atlanta in Cherokee County. Long is also accused of attacking two neighboring spas in northeast Atlanta but was arrested hours after the incident 150 miles south of Atlanta.
Allegations of being responsible for the other four murders give Long the possibility of being given the death sentence, which is being deliberated upon in another county. Asian Americans across the United States have criticized the attack and protested against violence targeting their race or ethnicity.
Many residents were angered when authorities said they did not believe that Long's crimes were racially motivated but born of a sex addiction, which is not an official disorder. On Tuesday, Cherokee County investigators instigated the anger of Asian Americans when they said that there was no evidence of the crime being racially motivated. Long faces hate crime enhancement in the four other deaths in Atlanta, which comes as a contrast to the statements, NPR reported.