The Georgia State Patrol used a tactical PIT (pursuit intervention technique) maneuver Tuesday evening on a freeway to stop the one suspect after three deadly shootings in and around Atlanta left at least eight people dead and sparked fears that the killings could have been racially motivated, according to a report.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, was taken into custody without incident, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Long was reportedly driving south on Interstate 75 in Crisp County when he was outmaneuvered by the state trooper.
Investigators said they have just begun the investigation but said the first shooting occurred at about 5 p.m. at Young’s Asian Massage in the town of Ackworth, in Cherokee County. Two victims died at the scene and three were transported to a hospital where two later died.
GEORGIA MASSAGE PARLORS TURN INTO WAR ZONES AS POLICE UNRAVEL DEADLY SHOOTING SCENES
Less than an hour after the first shooting, police in the Buckhead neighborhood, in northeast Atlanta, responded to a call of a robbery in progress and found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds at Gold Spa.
While at that scene, police received a call of shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, and found a woman who appeared to have been shot dead inside the business.
At least six of the eight victims were Asian women, authorities said. While officials said it’s too early to say if race played a role, the shootings come at a time when anti-Asian crimes in the U.S. have spiked.
At least four of the women were of Korean descent, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
There have only been two homicide investigations in Cherokee County in the last two years, according to the Journal-Constitution.
Crisp County officials took Long into custody around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, about 30 minutes after the county became aware of his location.
The PIT maneuver, which “caused the vehicle to spin out of control,” according to Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock, is often deployed to end pursuits.
Long was taken into custody and has been charged with murder.
“It is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County’s,” Atlanta police spokesman Sgt. John Chafee said based on video evidence of the three shootings.
Police said video footage showed Long’s vehicle in the area of the Atlanta spas about the time of those attacks after his SUV was seen on surveillance video pulling up to the Acworth spa. Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities were working to confirm the cases are related.
Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted that his “family is praying for the victims of these horrific acts of violence. We deeply appreciate the quick apprehension of a suspect” by the Georgia Department of Public Safety, which oversees the state patrol, “in coordination with local and federal law enforcement.”
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FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said the agency was assisting Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities in the investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.