Robert Aaron Long, 22, pleaded guilty Tuesday to four of the eight murders
The gunman accused of killing eight people across three metro Atlanta spas has claimed he bought a gun to kill himself because of his sex obsession before deciding to ‘punish’ the people he blamed for his ‘addiction’.
Robert Aaron Long, 22, appeared in court in Cherokee County Tuesday morning where he said he had originally planned to commit suicide on the day of the mass shooting back on March 16.
He said he loathed himself over his obsession with porn and sex – which he believes should only be between a married couple – and bought a gun to end his life.
Long told the court he was sitting in his car outside the first spa, drinking bourbon and trying to build up the ‘self-loathing’ to kill himself.
While he sat there, he said he decided to ‘punish’ the people who he blamed for him not having the ‘self-control’ to stop seeking sexual gratification.
The 22-year-old recounted his version of events as he pleaded guilty to four of the murders, sparing him the death penalty and landing him with life without parole for those slayings.
Under the plea deal, he has admitted to all charges of malice murder, felony murder, attempt to commit murder and aggravated assault in Cherokee county.
These charges relate to the first four murders at Young’s Asian Massage near Acworth, a city about 32 miles northwest of Atlanta.
Long still faces the death penalty over the other four murders across the Gold Massage Spa and the Aromatherapy Spa in Atlanta, which are being prosecuted in Fulton County.
He was indicted in Fulton County last month where he faces charges of domestic terrorism with a hate crime enhancement in addition to murder.
The white suspect is accused of going on a mass shooting rampage at two Asian massage parlors in Atlanta and one in Cherokee County back on March 16.
Eight people were killed in the attacks, six of them women of Asian descent.
They are: Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Soon C. Park, 44; Suncha Kim, 69, and 63-year-old Yong Yue.
Long cut a different figure from his mugshot as he appeared in court Tuesday clean-shaven, in glasses and in a white button-down shirt – with his miskempt beard gone.
He told the judge Tuesday he had struggled with his ‘obsessions’ with pornography and sex and was feeling suicidal when he carried out the attacks.
He told the court he had originally planned to commit suicide that day and was sitting in his car outside the spa drinking bourbon when he decided to instead ‘punish’ other people
Long told the judge Tuesday he had struggled with his ‘obsessions’ with pornography and sex
‘I never felt like I had a lot of control over these urges and it felt obsessive to the point it would occupy a lot of thought space,’ he said in the hearing, streamed by 11Alive.
The 22-year-old said he had sought treatment but it did not seem to work and he decided he wanted to kill himself.
When asked why he felt so concerned about his pornography obsession, he said he believed it is ‘making sport’ out of something he believes should only be between a married couple.
‘It’s taking something that I believe is meant for a monogamous relationship, making sport of it without any relationship,’ he said.
‘And taking sex out of its context that I believe to only be correct in a marriage relationship.’
On the day of the mass shooting, Long told the judge he purchased a gun to commit suicide but ‘was scared of killing myself.’
He said he then went to liquor store and bought some bourbon, before driving to Young’s Asian Massage.
‘I decided to try and go there to act out the sexually received – the sexual favors and my hope was that I would hate myself enough at that point and possess enough self-loathing to end my own life,’ he said.
Long said he sat in front of the parlor drinking alcohol for about an hour and that it was then that he came up with a plan to kill other people who he blamed for his sexual fantasies.
‘[I was] deciding if I wanted to go in or end it then and there and I started feeling drunk and in that time period while I was sitting in the car was when I began thinking about killing other people inside there,’ he said.
‘The train of thought was – it was not remotely logical – nonetheless what was running through my mind was if I want to stop the places and basically punish the people, I could find the self control to stop seeing [them] for the purposes of sexual gratification,’ he said.
When asked by the judge why he felt the spa workers should be punished, he said: ‘I don’t know if punishing was the right word. In essence, I was blame shifting from myself onto them.’
Long said he went inside the parlor and paid for mutual masturbation. Afterward, he went to the bathroom.
When he came out of the bathroom, he opened fire.
He told the court he had visited the parlor many times prior to the day but did not recognize any of the people inside.
Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace told the court Tuesday Long was motivated by a ‘sex addiction’ and his desire to eliminate sources of his temptation, but not by any hate or prejudice against Asian people.
‘All of the evidence that was gathered with regard to Cherokee County, your honor, came to the same conclusion, that this crime was not motivated by a bias or hate against Asian Americans,’ she said.
‘This was not any kind of hate crime,’ she said.
Wallace said prosecutors had planned to seek the death penalty if Long didn’t plead guilty.
However, all the relatives of the victims they had been able to contact are supportive of the plea deal, she added.
Long took the stand where he told the judge he understood is rights to a trial and agreed to taking the deal.
Young’s Asian Massage, near Acworth, a city about 32 miles northwest of Atlanta in Cherokee County. Long pleaded guilty to the four murders at the spa
In the March 16 mass shooting, Long is believed to have first opened fire at Young’s Asian Massage, near Acworth, a city about 32 miles northwest of Atlanta in Cherokee County.
He allegedly killed four at the spa before driving to Atlanta and opening fire in Gold Massage Spa in Atlanta, killing three.
He then allegedly crossed the street to the Aromatherapy Spa, shooting another victim dead there.
A ninth victim – Elcias R Hernandez-Ortiz, 30 – was shot in the throat, forehead, lungs and stomach, but survived and is expected to recover.
Long then went on the run and was driving to Florida to target porn-industry locations when he was arrested 150 miles south of Atlanta.
Officers rammed his Hyundai off the road to take him into custody where he is said to have confessed to the killings.
Law enforcement officials confer outside Gold Spa following the shooting on March 16