A prosecutor is seeking hate crime charges and the death penalty for the Atlanta, Georgia spa shooter that killed eight people in March.
Robert Aaron Long was indicted on four counts of murder, four counts of felony murder, five counts of assault with a deadly weapon, four counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and one count of domestic terrorism on Tuesday.
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis made the announcement at a news conference on Tuesday. The possible enhanced sentence against Long will be the first test for the county of the hate crime law passed by the Georgia Legislature. She added it sends a message that every member within the community is valued.
“I am here with the team that I chose to seek an indictment in this case and move us one step closer to justice,” said Willis. “I have put some of the most experienced and best attorneys on this case because it is important to every member of our community.”
Long was charged with murder in both Fulton and Cherokee counties in connection with the killings. In Cherokee County, prosecutors announced Monday a grand jury has also indicted Long on murder and aggravated assault charges.
“The charges in this indictment were determined based on a comprehensive investigation of Robert Aaron Long and the mass shooting that occurred at Youngs Asian Massage in Woodstock. The investigation was conducted by federal and local law enforcement agencies, in conjunction with the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office,” Cherokee County D.A. Shannon Wallace said in a statement. “Today, we have taken another step forward in seeking justice for the victims of this crime and for their family members.”
Six of the victims that Long killed at the Gold Spa were of Asian descent.
The hate crime charges are based on actual or perceived race, national origin, sex, and gender, according to online records. Georgia’s new hate crimes law does not provide for a stand-alone hate crime. After a person is convicted of an underlying crime, a jury must determine whether it’s a hate crime, which carries an additional penalty.