Celebrities are speaking out after eight people, at least six of whom were Asian women, were killed in shootings across Atlanta-area massage parlors on Tuesday.
The tragic shootings culminated in the arrest of 21-year-old suspect Robert Aaron Long, and while authorities have not yet identified a motive, the deadly incident drew more attention to the increased violence against Asians in the United States, with stars speaking out and sharing their outrage over the event.
"The violent attacks and murders against Asians are still happening. Please help us. We need help to be safe in our country. #StopAsianHate. Please," tweeted Olivia Munn, who has actively spoken out about anti-Asian violence.
"The targeting of our Asian brothers and sisters is sickening, but not surprising given the normalizing of anti-Asian hate speech in the past year," said Mindy Kaling. "We have to #StopAsianHate, enough is enough!"
Daniel Dae Kim, who has also been a prominent voice against Asian hate crimes, tweeted about the seemingly targeted shooting and said, "The race of the person committing the crime matters less than the simple fact that if you act with hate in your heart, you are part of the problem. And to those with the power to help and yet sit idly by, your silence is complicity. #StopAsianHate."
Jamie Chung later shared a statement which she posted on both Instagram and Twitter. "My heart goes out to the victims and their families. These murders and countless acts of violence and the destruction of businesses and white terrorism in our communities are the direct cause of politicians and leaders fanning the flames of anti Asian rhetoric and using us as a scapegoat for a global pandemic," she wrote. "Historically Asian immigrants have been the scapegoat for others misfortunes. This ends now. It starts by calling it what it is. MEDIA YOU NEED TO DO BETTER, CALL IT WHAT IT IS, DOMESTIC TERRORISM HATE CRIMES AGAINST ASIANS."
LeBron James addressed the incident on Twitter, referring to the tragedy as "Senseless and tragic" and calling the suspect a "coward a– young man."
"My condolences goes out to the families of all the victims and the entire Asian community tonight on what transpired in Atlanta at the Aromatherapy Spa," he tweeted.
"My heart goes out to the families and communities of the eight people murdered at metro-Atlanta spas," said Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter, Bernice King. "I am deeply saddened that we live in a nation and world permeated by hate and violence. I stand with Asian members of our World House, who are a part of our global human family."
Stop AAPI Hate, a national group that addresses anti-Asian hate in the U.S., reacted to the shootings earlier on Wednesday, writing, "The reported shootings of Asian American women on Tuesday in Atlanta is an unspeakable tragedy – for the families of the victims first and foremost, but also for the AAPI community — which has been reeling from high levels of racial discrimination."
"Few details have been released, including whether or not the shootings were related or motivated by hate," the organization added on Twitter. "But right now there is a great deal of fear and pain in the Asian American community that must be addressed."
In a statement to PEOPLE, Sgt. John Chafee of Atlanta Police Department's Public Affairs Unit said that Atlanta police officers responded to a "business robbery in progress call" at Gold Spa massage parlor on Tuesday around 5:47 p.m. local time and found three women dead from apparent gunshot wounds inside the establishment.
While police were at the scene, they received reports that shots were being fired at another massage parlor, Fuji Spa, across the street. Upon arrival, they found another woman shot and killed inside, Chafee said.
At this time, investigators are gathering information from both scenes to determine exactly what occurred," Chafee added.
About an hour prior to those two shootings, five people were shot at a spa in Acworth, Ga., about 30 miles north of Atlanta in Cherokee County.
Two of the victims were pronounced dead at the scene, while three others were transported to the hospital for their injuries and two of them died, Cherokee County Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. Jay Baker told the AP.
Long was arrested in connection with the Acworth shooting after being seen on surveillance footage pulling up to the spa around 4:50 p.m. Tuesday, minutes before the shooting, authorities told the AP. It is not known whether Long has been charged in connection with the incident.
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On whether the Atlanta shootings and the Acworth shooting are related, Chafee told PEOPLE, "Video footage from our Video Integration Center places the Cherokee County suspect's vehicle in the area, around the time of our Piedmont Road shootings."
"That, along with video evidence viewed by investigators, suggests it is extremely likely our suspect is the same as Cherokee County's, who is in custody," Chafee added, before saying that "an investigator from APD is in Cherokee County and we are working closely with them to confirm with certainty our cases are related."
The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
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