Atlanta spa shooter Robert Aaron Long pleads guilty to four murder charges


Georgia spa mass shooter Robert Aaron Long on Tuesday pleaded guilty to four out of the eight murders — blaming the slaughter on a drunken, suicidal shame triggered after he was caught by his roommate watching porn.

Wearing a white button-down shirt and slacks and sporting a mohawk haircut, Long, 22, pleaded guilty in Cherokee County Superior Court to all four murders at Youngs Asian Massage in Woodstock, the first part of a shocking shooting spree in March.

He accepted a deal of four life sentences without the possibility of parole, to be served consecutively, plus 35 years on other charges.

Prosecutors had planned to seek the death penalty if he did not plead guilty — a capital sentence he still faces if convicted for the other four murders in Atlanta at a second spa he shot up after Youngs.

He is scheduled to appear in court in Fulton County next month for the Atlanta shootings, where he also faces charges of domestic terrorism with a hate crime enhancement, accused of targeting Asian women.

But in Tuesday’s hearing in Cherokee County, District Attorney Shannon Wallace accepted that the first four murders were “not any kind of hate crime” — and Long told the court that his plan had been to kill himself.

Flowers laid outside of strip mall spa.
Prosecutors had said they planned to seek the death penalty if Robert Aaron Long did not plead guilty.
EPA

He said had been “embarrassed and ashamed” when his roommate caught him watching porn, admitting that his addiction to it had “hurt a lot of relationships in my life,” according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“It never felt like I had a lot of control over those urges and it became obsessive to the point it occupied a lot of thought space,” Long told Judge Ellen McElyea, the Atlanta paper said.

He planned to kill himself at Youngs Asian Massage, buying a 9mm handgun at a gun store on the way as well as getting a fifth of Four Roses bourbon because he was “scared to kill myself,” the paper reported.

He drank in the parking lot of the spa for about an hour, telling the court that he would “hate myself enough at that point … to end my own life.”

People with the medical examiner's office wheel out a body on a stretcher.
Robert Aaron Long still faces a potential death sentence if convicted in four additional shooting deaths in Fulton County.
AFP via Getty Images

But in his drunken rage, he persuaded himself that the spa workers at Youngs — where he had often visited before — were to blame for his perversions and decided to kill them instead, he told the court.

“I wanted to stop the places and basically punish the people that I could,” Long told the judge, AJC said.

He first gunned down Paul Michels, 54, who was leaning over a counter. “I don’t recall thinking much after I pulled the trigger first,” Long said. “My mind felt like it was blank.”

Long told the judge the deadly spree “didn’t feel like more than five minutes” as he admitted also murdering Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33, Xiaojie Yan, 49, and Daoyou Feng, 44. Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz, 30, was injured.

Prosecutor Wallace said the gunman walked through the massage business in Woodstock “shooting anyone and everyone he saw.”

In sentencing him, Judge McElyea noted that two of the victims were not Asian, and one was male.

“Once hatred is given a gun, it doesn’t matter who gets in the way. We are all subject to being the victim of a hate crime, whether we belong to that group or not,” the judge said.

Long is scheduled to appear again next month in Fulton County for the Atlanta shootings.

There, District Attorney Fani Willis filed notice that she intends to seek a hate crime sentence enhancement along with the death penalty for the deaths of Suncha Kim, 69, Soon Chung Park, 74, Hyun Jung Grant, 51, and Yong Ae Yue, 63.

The 19-count Fulton County indictment includes charges of murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and domestic terrorism.

Police said that after the shootings at the two Atlanta spas, Long got back into his car and headed south.

Memorial for spa shooting victims.
The 19-count Fulton County indictment includes charges of murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and domestic terrorism.
AP

By then, Long’s parents had called authorities to help after recognizing their son in still images from security video that the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office posted on social media. 

His parents were already tracking his movements through an application on his phone, the prosecutor said, and that enabled authorities to track their son down Interstate 75.

Long then surrendered to authorities in rural Crisp County, about 140 miles south of Atlanta.

With Post wires

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