The quick apprehension of Robert Aaron Long started with a photo and his parents, Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said. After the 21-year-old Woodstock man allegedly opened fire at Young’s Asian Spa, killing four people, his family called police to say they believed their son was the shooter.
Reynolds said the help of Long’s parents was instrumental in apprehending the suspect during a Wednesday morning press conference. Long told authorities he was planning to carry out additional shootings. He is accused of killing eight people and injuring a ninth person. Deputies allege he opened fire at the first massage parlor, along Georgia Highway 92 near Acworth, at about 5 p.m. and shot five people. Officials said he then gunned down four more people at Gold Spa and Aromatherapy Spa in northeastern Atlanta, less than one hour later. He was taken into custody in Crisp County about 150 miles south of Atlanta at about 8:30 p.m. He told authorities he was on the way to Florida to commit more shootings, officials said.
A prosecutor filed a notice Tuesday, May 11, 2021 that they would seek the death penalty for Long and pursue hate crime charges, according to WSBTV. The eight victims were Suncha Kim, 69; Soon Chung Park, 74; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; and Yong Ae Yue, 63 in Fulton County and Xiaojie “Emily” Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Delaina Yaun, 33; and Paul Michels, 54, in Cherokee County.
Here’s what you need to know:
Long’s Parents Saw the Photos the Cherokee County Sheriff Shared of the Suspect, & Told Authorities It Was Their Son
The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office obtained surveillance footage from outside Young’s Asian Spa and shared stills of the suspect, his vehicle and license plate number, shortly after the shootings.
“Please share,” deputies wrote on Facebook. “Suspect in a multiple shooting[s] on Hwy 92 near Bells Ferry Rd. If anyone recognizes this suspect or his vehicle please call 911.”
The photo quickly made its way to Long’s parents. They called police to tell them it was their son in the photos, Reynolds said during a Wednesday morning press conference. Deputies immediately set up a meeting with the family.
“I was there speaking with the family. They were very distraught,” he said. “They were very helpful in this investigation.”
The meeting with the family and the information they provided enabled authorities to track Long’s phone, which indicated he was heading south. Reynolds contacted Sheriff Billy Hancock in Crisp County to say their suspect was headed his way. The Crisp County Sheriff’s Office coordinated with Georgia State Patrol to set up a perimeter to “quickly hit the vehicle to prevent a pursuit.”
Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Captain Jay Baker also commended the family for their cooperation in the investigation and apprehension of their son.
“We are really appreciative of the family,” he said during the press conference. “Without them this wouldn’t have happened as well, as quickly as it happened. Certainly, this is difficult for them.”
Long told authorities he was on his way to Florida to commit more shootings, officials said. Bottoms commended the coordinated efforts of law enforcement to quickly apprehend the suspect before that happened.
“As tragic as this was on yesterday in metro Atlanta, this could have been significantly worse,” she said during the press conference. “…It’s likely there would have been more victims.”
Long & His Family Were Heavily Involved in Their Church, Whose Elders Said They Are ‘Grieving’ & ‘Heartbroken’
Now-deleted social media posts from the Crabapple First Baptist Church paint a picture of Long’s involvement with the church, which he attended with his mom, dad and sister. The elders of the church released a statement to Heavy, which said they are “grieved” and “heartbroken” about the shootings, and that they are “distraught” for Long’s family.
“We are grieved to hear the tragic news about the multiple deaths in the Atlanta area. We are heartbroken for all involved,” the statement said. “We grieve for the victims and their families, and we continue to pray for them. Moreover, we are distraught for the Long family and continue to pray for them as well.”
The church later deleted its website and Facebook page. It included posts of Long sharing his testimony on video, photos of him and his sister at youth events, his dad at a cookout and events his mom organized. His mom once organized a movie night at the church, and wanted to be sure it included a cotton candy machine. The church also recognized Long’s younger sister on its Facebook page when she graduated from high school in 2020.
Long was also involved with the church’s Student Ministry Team along with his dad as recently as 2018, according to minutes from a meeting of the elders. He was one of 11 people on the team, which “exists to see students receive Jesus Christ as Lord, and walk in Him, being rooted in the faith.”
Long’s dad deleted his Facebook page in the hours after the shooting, and it did not appear that his mom had a social media presence before the shooting.
Long Had Recently Been Kicked Out of His Parents House for Sex Addiction & His Grandma Said She Loved Him Very Much
Long was dealing with a sex addiction that involved him spending hours watching pornography and sometimes going to massage parlors for sex, CNN reported. He had lived with his parents until the night before the shooting, an anonymous 911 call obtained by CNN reported.
The incident report from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office indicated an anonymous caller told a dispatcher the suspect may be his son. He added his son “does have a tracker on his phone.” Another anonymous caller said the suspect was “kicked out of his parents’ house last night,” and said Long “was emotional.”
Long’s grandmother, Margaret Long, briefly spoke to CNN reporters who visited his grandparents home in Tennessee. The news outlet reported she was “visibly upset.”
“All I want to say is that he is our grandson and we still love him very much,” she said.