Christian mass shooter Robert Aaron Long, 21, told police he was addicted to pornography and was trying to eliminate “temptation” when he shot up three massage parlors in the Atlanta area, killing eight people who were mostly Asian women Tuesday evening, and was planning to shoot up more parlors in Florida.
“We did interview him last night. He is currently in our facility at the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center,” Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said at a press conference Wednesday. “He made indicators that he has some issues, potentially sexual addiction, and may have frequented some of these places in the past.”
Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department said Long, who attended Crabapple First Baptist Church in Milton, Georgia, a Southern Baptist congregation, “did take responsibility for the shootings” and dismissed reports that his actions were racially motivated.
“He does claim that it was not racially motivated. He apparently has an issue with what he considers a sex addiction and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places. It’s a temptation for him he wanted to eliminate,” Baker said. “Those are comments that he made.”
Baker explained that investigators handling the case said Long understood the gravity of his actions on Tuesday.
“He was pretty much fed up and kinda at the end of his rope, and I guess it was a really bad day for him and this is what he did,” Baker said. "These locations, he sees them as an outlet for him, something he shouldn’t be doing. … He had an issue with porn and he was attempting to take out that temptation.”
He added: “It may be targets of opportunity. We believe that he frequented these places in the past and may have been lashing out.”
Authorities say four people died in Long’s shooting spree during his first attack at Young’s Asian Massage near Acworth, a northwest suburb of Atlanta, which was reported around 5 p.m. A Hispanic man was also injured there.
Atlanta police officers then responded to what was reported as a robbery at Gold Spa (open 24 hours a day) in the northeast part of the city at 5:47 p.m., where they found the bodies of three women with gunshot wounds. While officers were at that scene, they received a call about shots fired at the Aromatherapy Spa across the street, where they found another woman's body.
Police confirmed Wednesday that two of the eight people killed are white.
As police shared the new details on Long’s motives, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said, “we certainly will not begin to blame victims.”
“We don’t know additional information on what his motives were, but we certainly will not begin to blame victims. And as far as we know in Atlanta, these are legally operating businesses that have not been on our radar, not on the radar of APD,” Lance Bottoms said.
Baker said Long, who appeared to have used a 9mm firearm in his attack on the massage parlors, told police he was on his way to Florida to shoot up more massage parlors.
Thanks to the help of his family, they were able to track him through his cellphone and stop him before he was able to take more lives.
“We are really appreciative of the family. Without them, this would not have happened as quickly as it happened. They are very supportive and certainly, this was difficult for them,” Baker said.
Long, who was twice baptized at Crabapple First Baptist Church, most recently in 2018, previously attended services with his mother, father and younger sister. Police said that at the time of the shootings, Long was not living with his parents.
Minutes from a meeting of the elders at the church showed that, in 2018, Long was one of 11 people who served as members of Crabapple First Baptist Church’s Student Ministry Team, which “exists to see students receive Jesus Christ as Lord, and walk in Him, being rooted in the faith.”
Jerry Dockery, the lead teaching elder at the church, prayed last Sunday that God would use his church to have leaders in various areas of the public and private sector “drawn toward you.”
“We pray that Lord, our leaders, our first responders, our teachers, our business leaders to have their eyes and hearts drawn toward you. You’d make Yourself known in this community in a very powerful, personal way. We ask that you use Crabapple Church to bring this to pass,” he said.
Asked by The Christian Post on Wednesday to share his thoughts on Long’s faith and any possible explanation for what could have driven Long to carry out the shootings, Dockery said: “We are grieved to hear the tragic news about the multiple deaths in the Atlanta area. We are heartbroken for all involved. We grieve for the victims and their families and will continue to pray for them. Moreover, we are distraught for the Long family and pray for them as well.”