Jay Baker, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Captain and spokesman of the department, is facing backlash for his comments on Atlanta metro shooting suspect Robert Aaron Long having a “bad day” when he allegedly killed eight people and for a Facebook post showing a T-shirt that said the coronavirus was imported from “CHY-NA.”
Baker made comments during a Wednesday morning press conference that drew quick criticism. Baker was involved with the investigation of a shooting at Young’s Asian Massage Parlor at about 5 p.m. March 16, 2021, where authorities allege Long opened fire and killed four people, wounding a fifth. Less than an hour later, Long allegedly gunned down four more people at two spas in northeastern Atlanta. He was apprehended less than four hours after the shooting, nearly 200 miles away in Crisp County, Georgia.
Baker did not immediately respond to a request from Heavy seeking comment.
Here’s what you need to know:
Baker Said Long Was ‘Having a Bad Day’ When He Allegedly Killed 8 People at Asian Spas in the Atlanta Metro Area
Baker’s comments during a Wednesday morning press conference drew sharp criticism from listeners, who said the captain was being insensitive and minimizing the death of eight people. Long told investigators he had a “sex addiction” and that he targeted Asian spas to eliminate “temptation.” Investigators emphasized there was no evidence the spas were involved with illegal activities.
“He was pretty much fed up, at the end of his rope, and it was a really bad day for him and this is what he did,” Baker said of Long.
Facebook users commented on the Atlanta Police Department’s livestream of the press conference.
“He had a ‘really bad day’? Is that going to be part of his defence Capt? What an insensitive thing to say. What kind of day did those workers have Capt Baker?” one person wrote.
One person replied to the comment, saying Baker was quoting the suspect.
“Captain your police department is not Robert Aaron Long’s defense attorneys. Stop making excuses for white terrorism. It’s f****** disgusting,” another person wrote.
The comment also spurred a series of farcical headlines from The Onion, a satire website.
“Sympathetic Police Know What It’s Like To Have A Bad Day And Kill 8 People,” the headline said.
Baker told Baker told 11Alive shortly after the shooting that his department and the community were shocked. The department investigated only one homicide in both 2019 and 2020.
“In 2020, we had one homicide in Cherokee County, so, we’ve had three today, so it’s pretty shocking not only to our responding deputies and public safety, but also to the community here. And we take this very serious,” Baker told 11Alive.
A Facebook Post Shared Photos of T-Shirts Saying the Coronavirus Was Imported From ‘CHY-NA’
A Facebook post that has now been deleted shared photos of T-shirts that said “COVID-19 imported virus from CHY-NA.” The photos were shared by the Daily Beast and Buzzfeed, which tied Baker to the account. Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds told the Daily Beast he was not aware of the post.
“I am not aware of that. I will have to contact him but thank you for bringing that to my attention,” he said.
Twitter user Rich Phelps shared a screenshot of the posts.
“Hey Captain Jay Baker with Cherokee Country Sheriff’s Office… this you?” he wrote.
The original post appeared on Facebook March 30, 2020, sharing two versions of the T-shirts.
“Place your order while they last,” the post said with a smiley face.