President Biden on Wednesday said he’s aware that Asian Americans are “very concerned” about a pair of shootings at Atlanta massage parlors that killed eight, but he also added the shooter’s motive is unclear.
Six of the victims were Asian Americans, sparking speculation it could be a hate crime — though police say accused shooter Robert Aaron Long, 21, attributed the murders to his sex addiction.
“Whatever the motivation here, I know that Asian Americans are very concerned,” Biden told reporters at the White House during a webcast St Patrick’s Day celebration with Ireland’s prime minister.
Biden added: “I’m making no connection at this moment to the motivation of the killer.”
Cherokee County, Georgia, Sheriff Frank Reynolds said Wednesday that Long admitted to the Tuesday slayings but denied that racism was a motive.
”During his interview, he gave no indicators that this was racially motivated,” Reynolds said. “We asked him that specifically and the answer was no.”
Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County sheriff’s office said that Long viewed the parlors as a “temptation he wanted to eliminate.”
Democrats frequently accuse former President Donald Trump of stoking anti-Asian racism by referring to COVID-19 as the “China virus” in an effort to blame the communist-run country for allowing the virus to spread. Trump says that his use of the term applies to the virus’s geographic origin.