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Man arrested after eight people killed in shootings at Atlanta spas

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The site of one of the shootings in Georgia
The site of one of the shootings in Georgia   -   Copyright  AP Photo
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Eight people were killed in shootings at massage parlours in Atlanta, US, on Tuesday night.

Police said a 21-year-old man has been arrested following a manhunt.

Many of the victims are women of Asian descent, the authorities said.

The attacks began around 5 pm, when five people were shot at Youngs Asian Massage Parlor in a strip mall near a rural area in Acworth, around 50 kilometres north of Atlanta, Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Captain Jay Baker said.

Two people died at the scene and three were transported to a hospital where two of them died, Baker said.

No one was arrested at the scene.

Around 5.50 pm police in the Buckhead neighbourhood of Atlanta, responding to a call of a robbery in progress, found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds at Gold Spa.

While they were at that scene, they learned of a call reporting shots fired at another spa across the street, Aromatherapy Spa, and found a woman who appeared to have been shot dead inside the business.

“It appears that they may be Asian,” Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant said.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that its diplomats in Atlanta have confirmed from police that four of the victims who died were women of Korean descent.

The ministry said the office of its Consulate General in Atlanta is trying to confirm the nationality of the women.

The killings came amid a recent wave of attacks against Asian Americans that coincided with the spread of the coronavirus across the United States.

A man suspected in the Acworth shooting was captured by surveillance video pulling up to the business around 4.50 pm, minutes before the attack, authorities said.

Baker said the suspect, Robert Aaron Long, of Woodstock, was taken into custody in Crisp County, about 240 kilometres south of Atlanta.

Baker said they believe Long is also the suspect in the Atlanta shootings.

Police said video footage showed the suspect’s vehicle in the area of the Atlanta spas about the time of those attacks as well.

That, as well as other video evidence, “suggests it is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County’s, who is in custody,” Atlanta police said in a statement.

Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities were working to confirm the cases are related.

FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said the agency was assisting Atlanta and Cherokee County authorities in the investigation.