Georgia church ‘heartbroken’ after member charged in Atlanta killings

By: Scott Barkley

Baptist Press

MILTON, Ga. (BP) – The elders of Crabapple First Baptist Church issued a statement today (March 17) expressing grief after a series of Atlanta-area shootings yesterday that left eight people dead. The elders said they were “heartbroken” and were praying for the victims and their families as well as the family of the alleged shooter, a member at Crabapple.

Robert Aaron Long, 21, is accused of the shootings Tuesday (March 16) at a massage parlor in Cherokee County and two more in northeast Atlanta. He has been charged with murder in the shootings.

In a news conference, law enforcement officials said Long had admitted to the killings. Jay Baker, a spokesman for the Cherokee County sheriff’s office, said Long told them he targeted the massage parlors, which he said he had frequented, because he had a sexual addiction. Baker said Long called the massage parlors “a temptation he wanted to eliminate.”

Although six of the victims were Asian women, Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said the attacks did not appear to be racially motivated.

“We asked him that specifically and the answer is no,” Reynolds said.

Crabapple First Baptist had taken down its website and other online platforms, but released the following statement attributed to the church’s elders:

“We are grieved to hear the tragic news about the multiple deaths in the Atlanta area. We are heartbroken for all involved.

“We grieve for the victims and their families, and we continue to pray for them. Moreover, we are distraught for the Long family and continue to pray for them as well.”

Law enforcement officials said Long’s parents helped police capture their son, contacting them after security images of the shooting suspect became public, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

A GPS tracker on the Hyundai Tucson that Long was driving allowed police to capture him without incident Tuesday after applying a PIT maneuver on I-75 in Crisp County, 150 miles south of Atlanta. Baker said Long viewed Florida as a hub for the porn industry and “an outlet for something he shouldn’t be doing.”

When captured, Long was in possession of a 9 MM firearm, according to police. He had purchased the pistol from a gun store earlier Tuesday.

This article was written by Scott Barkley, national correspondent for Baptist Press. It was originally published at baptistpress.com.

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