Atlanta shooting suspect attended rehab for sex addiction, felt ‘remorse and shame,’ former roommates say
The suspect charged with eight murders after attacks on several Atlanta-area massage parlors had attended rehab for sex addiction and felt extreme guilt about his sexual urges, two former roommates said.
Robert Long, 21, is accused of fatally shooting seven women and one man in three separate shootings at massage businesses in and around Atlanta on Tuesday.
Officials said Long has claimed he committed the shootings because he has a “sex addiction” and wanted to eliminate his temptation. However, authorities are also considering if the crimes may have been racially motivated – despite the suspect’s denials – because six of the victims were Asian women. The other two victims were both White.
Tyler Bayless, 35, told Reuters and USA Today that he spent months living with Long in an Atlanta halfway house named Maverick Recovery in late 2019 and early 2020.
Robert Aaron Long, suspected in a series of massage parlor shootings, was taken into custody in Crisp County, Ga., late Tuesday. (Crisp County Sheriff’s Office)
He said Long was being treated for sex addiction and felt an overwhelming sense of guilt over visiting massage parlors “for explicitly sexual activity.”
“In the halfway house he would describe several of his sexual addiction ‘relapses’ as he called them,” Bayless told Reuters. “He would have a deep feeling of remorse and shame and say he needed to return to prayer and to return to God.”
Bayless, who said he was being treated for drug addiction, said that Long was deeply religious and would fall into bouts of depression over his indiscretions.
Bronson Lillemon, a second former housemate of Long’s, echoed Bayless’ account to USA Today, saying that Long “felt a lot of guilt and a lot of shame” over going to the massage parlors.
Law enforcement officials confer outside a massage parlor following a shooting on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in Atlanta.
Both housemates told the outlet that they never heard Long use racist language and had no knowledge that he ever visited racist message boards online.
Long is facing several charges, including malice murder and aggravated assault with intent to murder.
Many Asian-Americans were outraged that the suspect was not immediately charged with hate crimes.
“This man identified targets owned by Asians,” Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, told The Associated Press. The gunman “was very clearly going after a targeted group of people.”
Others in the Asian-American community expressed fear following the attacks, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution they worried about leaving their homes.
“It’s too dangerous to go outside,” said 77-year-old Atlanta resident Soon Ja Kim. “We are so scared now.”
Long’s attorney, J. Daran Burns of Burns Law Group, P.C., said Thursday in a written statement that the firm offers condolences to the victims and their families, and is working “to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident.”
“Everybody is doing their jobs, both law enforcement and the district attorney’s office,” Burns said. “Now, our firm will conduct a thorough investigation on our client’s behalf.”
The statement said that Long waived his statutory right to a first appearance hearing before the Magistrate Court of Cherokee County.