While preliminary investigations suggested the suspect was not motivated by racial hatred, officials said it was too early to know for sure and the investigation was still ongoing.

The suspect in the fatal shooting of eight people at day spas in and around Atlanta said he had problems with sexual addiction and the shootings may not have been motivated by racial hatred, police officers said Wednesday.

Officials said the 21-year-old suspect, Robert Aaron Long, appeared to have visited spas where violence broke out on Tuesday, or similar, and that he was driving to Florida when he was arrested, perhaps for more shootings perform. Six of the eight victims were women of Asian origin.

“The suspect took responsibility for the shooting,” said Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department at a news conference.

“There is a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate,” added Baker, referring to what he said was the suspect’s sexual addiction problems.

While preliminary investigations suggested the suspect was not motivated by racial hatred, officials said it was too early to know for sure and the investigation was still ongoing.

US authorities are still examining whether the attacks were inspired by a motivation against immigrants or against Asia or a personal complaint, a federal law enforcement officer told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The killings were the latest in a series of mass shootings in the United States, with others in recent years in schools, cinemas, medical clinics, and other public places. A 9mm gun was found in Long’s car, added Mr. Baker.

The bloodshed began around 5 p.m. Tuesday when four people were killed and another wounded at Young’s Asian Massage in Cherokee County, about 40 miles north of Atlanta, Baker said.

Two women of Asian descent were among the dead there, along with a white woman and a white man, Mr Baker said, adding that the surviving victim was a Spanish man.

In Atlanta, Georgia’s state capital, police officers who responded to a “robbery” call shortly before 6:00 pm arrived at the Gold Spa beauty salon and found three women shot dead, Police Chief Rodney Bryant told reporters.

While investigating the first report, officers were called to a separate aromatherapy spa across the street where another woman was found dead from a gunshot wound, Bryant said. All four women killed in Atlanta were of Asian descent.

Long, of Woodstock, Cherokee County, was detained in Crisp County, 150 miles south of Atlanta. A photo of Long, who is white, has been released by authorities. He is being held in a Cherokee County detention center and his indictment is scheduled for Thursday, police officers said.

Long was discovered in South Georgia, far from the crime scenes, after Cherokee County police issued a bulletin containing a description and license plates of the vehicle involved in the attacks.

He was arrested without incident after a highway chase by Georgia State Police and Crisp County Sheriff’s Deputies, officials said.

Long’s quick concern was aided by his family’s cooperation with law enforcement agencies and surveillance cameras filing of the suspect at the locations of the shootings, police said.

“We are very grateful for the family. Without her, it wouldn’t have happened as quickly as it did. You’ve been very supportive, ”said Baker.

Gun control is a controversial issue in the United States that enshrines the right to bear arms in the constitution. The US House of Representatives approved two gun control bills last week when Democrats gripped a changing political landscape that they said had improved the chances of new legislation being passed after years of failed attempts.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said that “a crime against any community is a crime against all of us,” added, “This was a tragic day with many victims. Fortunately, the suspect was quickly arrested. “

Police departments in Atlanta and New York City said they would increase their presence in businesses and Asian communities after the shootings.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden was briefed on the shootings overnight. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the top U.S. law enforcement officer, has also been briefed, a Justice Department official said. The FBI’s Atlanta office is assisting the local police in their investigation.

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