A white gunman was charged Wednesday with killing eight people, majority women of Asian descent, at three Atlanta-area massage parlours in an attack that sent terror through the Asian American community that's increasingly been targeted during the coronavirus pandemic. "They're afraid to leave their homes because there's a real risk, just walking down the street minding your own business, that you'll be blamed for a global pandemic and that people will come after you", said Frank Wu, the president of Queens College, City University of NY, who studies anti-Asian discrimination in the United States.
Stop AAPI Hate, a group that tracks anti-Asian violence, said it had received almost 3,800 reports of hate incidents since mid-March 2020, around the time that the Covid-19 pandemic seized the U.S. More than 500 of those came in the first two months of 2021.
Reports of the suspect denying he was racially motivated to commit the crimes does not necessarily rule that motivation out.
"Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did", Cherokee County Capt. Jay Baker said in the AJC report. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the top USA law enforcement official, also has been briefed, a Justice Department official said.
After he was detained, "he made a comment. that he was headed to Florida and that he was going to do similar acts in that state", Mr Baker said, adding that Mr Long wanted to target "some type of porn industry".
The White House said Mr Biden had been briefed on the "horrific" shootings.
"We're not yet clear about the motive", said Vice-President Kamala Harris, the first black and south-Asian woman in that position.
"To my Asian American family, please take time to grieve but know you're loved, seen and IMPORTANT". Officials said that at least six of the victims appeared to be Asian women. One man was reported injured.
Officials did not immediately announce charges related to the attacks at the two spas.
He said it was too early to tell if it was racially motivated - "but the indicators right now are it may not be".
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Italy is now vaccinating some 170,000 people per day, the prime minister said, adding: "The goal is to triple that quickly". About 170,000 vaccines are now being administered each day in the country.
She said she did not want, in her words, "to get into victim blaming, victim shaming here".
The shootings come amid a rise in attacks on Asian people in the US.
The "Atlanta Journal-Constitution" website quoted the Cherokee County Police as saying that four people were shot dead at the Young Asian Massage Center near Accorth, a suburb of Atlanta in the state of Georgia.
Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that aims to prevent anti-Asian discrimination amid the COVID-19 pandemic, called the shootings "an unspeakable tragedy". "We need more people to care about us".
"Even as we've battled the pandemic, we've continued to neglect the longer-lasting epidemic of gun violence in America", he tweeted.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an uptick in anti-Asian sentiment and hate crimes over the past year due to the virus's origins in Wuhan, China.
The police department in Seattle also said it would increase patrols and outreach to support its Asian-American community.
Following the shootings in Georgia, celebrities shared messages supporting the Asian community and condemning violence against them.
"I, my family and our family of businesses stand against all forms of hate, racism and violence and will continue to work toward a just and united community that rejects the ideologies creating such divisiveness".
The Democratic party in the state called Tuesday's shooting spree "horrifying". He later confirmed that the victims were two Asian women, a white woman and a white man, and that a Hispanic man had been wounded.
Over the past year, thousands of incidents of abuse have been reported to an anti-hate group that tracks incidents against Asian Americans, and hate crimes in general are at the highest level in more than a decade. "It's wrong, it's un-American, and it must stop".