At least one gunman killed eight people at three Atlanta-area massage parlors Tuesday and police say they are trying to determine a motive for the brazen attacks.
Hours after the killings, a 21-year-old man was captured in southwest Georgia. Cherokee County sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker said Robert Aaron Long of Woodstock, Georgia, was taken into custody in Crisp County on Tuesday night, about 150 miles south of Atlanta.
Baker said police believe Long is the suspect in all three shootings. Video evidence also "suggests it is extremely likely" Long is the suspect in each attack, Atlanta Police Department Sgt. John Chafee said in an emailed statement to USA TODAY.
Atlanta police responded to calls for a robbery in progress shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday, Chafee said. Police found three women dead when they arrived at the spa.
While police were at the first scene, they got calls for shots fired across the street at another massage parlor, Chafee said. They went to the business and found another woman who had been fatally shot.
Around 5 p.m., five people were shot at Young's Asian Massage Parlor in Acworth, about 30 miles north of Atlanta, Baker said. Two of the victims were dead and three were transported to a hospital where two of them also died, Baker said. The Cherokee Sheriff's Office released a photo of a suspect on Facebook Tuesday evening.
The victims in the Acworth shooting were two Asian women, a white woman and a white man, Baker told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The fifth victim was a Hispanic man who was injured and taken to the hospital.
All four victims of the Atlanta shootings appeared to be Asian women, police told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
"Having these two shootings occur at massage parlors and with knowledge of Cherokee County's shootings, Zone 2 commanders quickly dispatched officers to check nearby similar businesses and patrols have been increased in those areas," Chafee said.
Deputies in Crisp County received information from Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds that Long was traveling south in a black SUV around 8 p.m., a spokesperson with the Crisp County Sheriff's told USA TODAY. He was spotted by Georgia State Patrol troopers and Crisp County deputies — a GSP trooper performed a PIT maneuver to stop Long, and he was arrested and transported to the Crisp County Detention Center.
"Many have asked whether these shootings are related to Cherokee County's shootings," Chafee said. "Video footage from our Video Integration Center places the Cherokee County suspect's vehicle in the area, around the time of our Piedmont Road shootings. That, along with video evidence viewed by investigators, suggests it is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County's, who is in custody."
He added an an investigator from APD is in Cherokee County and the department with working to "confirm with certainty our cases are related."
Mary Morgan told USA TODAY she's lived across the street from Long's family for about 18 years. She she described a "Christian family" who "took their kids to church," though she only knew them well enough to say hello.
She added she didn't know Long was back in the area.
Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., said he was praying for the victims' families and for peace in the community. He added his "heart is broken tonight after the tragic violence in Atlanta that took eight lives."
In a tweet, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said he appreciated Long's "quick apprehension" by law enforcement officers who captured Long, who was traveling on the highway before police stopped him.
"Our entire family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence," the governor said.
Contributing: Dennis Wagner, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.