A 21-year-old pastor's son arrested on suspicion of attacking three massage parlours in the US state of Georgia has told police that he carried out the shootings to protect himself from sexual temptation.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, who is accused of shooting dead eight people - most of whom were Asian massage parlour workers - told authorities that he was a pornography addict and planned on attacking more parlours in Florida to try and quell his issues.
"We did interview him last night. He is currently in our facility at the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center,” Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds told press on Wednesday. “He made indicators that he has some issues, potentially sexual addiction, and may have frequented some of these places in the past."
Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Department added that Long, who was a congregant of Crabapple First Baptist Church in Milton, Georgia, "did take responsibility for the shootings” but denied that they were racially motivated.
"He does claim that it was not racially motivated. He apparently has an issue with what he considers a sex addiction and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places," Baker added. "It’s a temptation for him he wanted to eliminate. Those are the comments that he made.”
Baker noted that Long "was pretty much fed up and kinda at the end of his rope" and that "it was a really bad day for him and this is what he did".
"These locations, he sees them as an outlet for him, something he shouldn’t be doing...he had an issue with porn and he was attempting to take out that temptation.”
He added: “It may be targets of opportunity. We believe that he frequented these places in the past and may have been lashing out."
Atlanta's mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said it was "very likely there would have been more victims" had the police not been able to apprehend the suspect.
South Korea's foreign ministry has confirmed that four of the victims were of Korean ethnicity. The authorities have said that six of those killed were Asian women.
In New York, counter-terror police have been deployed to guard Asian communities around the city following the Atlanta shootings.
US President Joe Biden said he and First Lady Dr Jill Biden were "keeping everyone impacted by the shootings in Atlanta in our prayers".
"We don't yet know the motive, but what we do know is that the Asian-American community is feeling enormous pain tonight," he added. "The recent attacks against the community are un-American. They must stop."
Vice President Kamala Harris added: "I do want to say to our Asian-American community that we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged all people."
On Wednesday, Long was formally charged with eight counts of murder. He could face the death penalty for his crimes.