Investigators are poring over the online history of the alleged gunman who shot up three Atlanta-area spas — as they attempt to understand the violence that left eight people dead and a ninth seriously injured, according to Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds.
“We still have forensic evidence that we have to look at, cell phones, computers, interviews with other people,” Reynolds told CNBC host Shepard Smith on Wednesday evening.
“We’ve got those devices. We have to go through them and do a forensic analysis, look at all that data, see what he’s looked at [and] who he’s communicated with,” the lawman added, asked specifically about the suspect’s phone and computer.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, has admitted to carrying out the Tuesday shooting spree, saying that he wanted to “eliminate” the “temptation” that drove his supposed sex addiction, investigators have said.
But as six of the eight fatal victims were Asian women, it was initially feared that the attacks could be the latest and most horrific in a recent nationwide surge in anti-Asian bias attacks.
Though Long has denied to police that he was spurred by racial hate, Reynolds said that investigators are not yet ruling out the possibility.
“I have watched the entire [police] interview with the suspect and he does make a full confession,” Reynolds told Smith. “During that interview, I did not hear anything about race, other than us asking the question. But we’re not going to rule that out. Obviously we’re going to continue this investigation and go off of every lead and every possible angle that we can.”
Asked about reports in Korean-language media that Long threatened to kill Asian people as he shot up the spas, citing a witness to one of the attacks, Reynolds said that he was not aware of any such remarks — but again stressed that the investigation is ongoing.
“I don’t know that it’s true,” he said. “I’d heard that from social media and media, but I’d not heard that from our investigators. … But certainly we’re going to take a look at that.”