With the ongoing investigations to figure out the motive of the suspect in this week’s deadly shootings at three Atlanta-area spas, an aggressive debate is underway over whether he should face hate crime charges for the assaults that killed eight people, comprising six Asian women.

“It looked like a hate crime to me,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms mentioned during an interview on Anderson Cooper 360. “This was targeted at Asian spas. Six of the women who were killed were Asian so it’s difficult to see it as anything but that.”

Robert Aaron Long, 21, has been arrested in relation to the shootings in Cherokee County, Georgia and the two others in Atlanta.

 Long accepted responsibility for the shooting in Cherokee County, where he is charged with four counts of murder and a charge of extreme ass, as per the county sheriff’s office. He is also charged with four more counts of murder, Atlanta Police Department mentioned.

The suspect revealed to police that he believed he had a sex addiction and that he found the spas as “a temptation … that he wanted to eliminate,” Cherokee County sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker mentioned.

However, Atlanta Police Chief Rodney Bryant commented that it is still too early to know a motive. Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace mentioned that the investigation is continuing and appropriate charges will be brought.

When questioned if Long could face hate crime charges, Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds answered that everything is still under enquiry and that they will let the evidence to lead them to a logical conclusion.

While FBI Director Christopher Wray mentioned that the attacks don’t seem to be racially motivated, advocacy groups have disputed that it is too soon to make that determination. Additionally, shootings don’t have to be racially motivated to be stated as a hate crime in Georgia.

If Long was targeting women out of hatred for them or convicting them for his own problems, it could still possibly be a hate crime.

The communities as well as the country is engulfed with both fear as well as grief. Flowers have creased the businesses that saw the scenes of devastating violence, but as amplified hate impacts Asians and Asian Americans, the emotional toll has been sensed across the nation.

There has been a two times increase in Anti-Asian hate crimes during the pandemic, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

“Such vicious, unconscionable acts of violence cut at the very core of our country and the values on which it was founded,” earlier Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said on Thursday. “As we await the findings of a thorough investigation, the critical work to combat the haunting rise of hatred against the AAPI community must intensify with the immediacy this latest tragedy commands.”

All through a vigil outside of Young’s Asian Spa on Thursday, Sheriff Reynolds informed reporters that he came to the candlelight vigil to let the Asian American community discern that “we have them in our hearts and our prayers and we’re so sorry for the loss of life.”

A vigil was also organized outside of Gold Spa in Atlanta. 

President Joe Biden asked for flags to be flown at half-staff Thursday to honor the victims. It is also in his plan to visit Atlanta on Friday to meet with Mayor Bottoms, as well as Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders, as per the Georgia State Rep. Bee Nguyen.