Atlanta Spa Shootings – President Joe Biden replied to the deadly shootings in the Atlanta area on Wednesday, saying he understands Asian Americans’ concerns but refusing to make concrete comments about the incident pending further investigation.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Biden said, according to a pool report. “And the question of motivation is still to be determined. But whatever the motivation here I know that Asian Americans are very concerned, because as you know I’ve been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans for the last couple of months and I think it’s very troubling.”
“I’m making no connection at this moment to the motivation of the killer, and waiting for an answer as the investigation proceeds from the FBI and from the Justice Department,” he continued, adding that he’d have “more to say” as the investigation continues.
First lady Jill Biden also offered condolences to the victims’ families, calling the shootings a “senseless tragedy.”
On Tuesday, eight people were killed in a series of shootings at massage spas in the Atlanta area. Women of Asian origin made up six of the victims.
A lone suspect, Robert Aaron Long, was apprehended Tuesday night outside of Young’s Asian Spa in Acworth, Georgia. Authorities say he was en route to Florida, where he may have intended to carry out further attacks.
Investigators said it’s “too early” to determine if the shooting was racially motivated. But the identities of the majority of the victims sparked outrage across the country, prompting many to speak out against racist hate crimes proliferating against people of Asian descent.
During his speech commemorating the coronavirus pandemic earlier this month, Biden condemned brutality against Asian Americans.
“At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans, they’re on the front lines of this pandemic trying to save lives, and still, still, they’re forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America,” he said at the time. “It’s wrong, it’s un-American and it must stop.”
Asian Americans have reported an alarming surge of racist attacks since January 2020, when the coronavirus was first detected in China. Stop AAPI Hate, an advocacy group formed to track such attacks, has recorded nearly 4,000 incidents of anti-Asian racism over the last year.
Violent assaults of older Asian Americans, including some that have resulted in deaths, have shocked communities in recent weeks. One study found that hate crimes against Asians had increased by 150% in America’s largest cities in 2020.