A Georgia man who has been accused of killing eight people in an apparent attack targeting Asian women described himself as deeply religious in social media posts before the string of shootings.
Aaron Long, of Woodstock, was seen on surveillance video at the Atlanta-area massage parlors and was stopped by law enforcement on Interstate 75 two hours away, but social media posts and past acquaintances offered few clues for the apparently racist shooting spree, reported The Daily Beast.
“Pizza, guns, drums, music, family, and God,” read the tagline in an Instagram account that appears to belong to the alleged shooter. “This pretty much sums up my life. It’s a pretty good life.”
A student who graduated from Sequoyah High with the 21-year-old Long in 2017 saw no sign of the violence he would allegedly commit just a few years later.
“He was very innocent seeming and wouldn’t even cuss,” the classmate told The Daily Beast. “He was sort of nerdy and didn’t seem violent from what I remember. He was a hunter and his father was a youth minister or pastor. He was big into religion.”
Other social media posts attest to Long’s interest in religion, including a since-deleted video posted on the Facebook page for Crabapple First Baptist Church shows him discussing his baptism.
“As many of you may remember, when I was 8 years old I thought I was becoming a Christian, and got baptized during that time, and I remember a lot of the reason for that is a lot of my friends in my Sunday school class were doing that,” Long says in the video. “And after that time, there wasn’t any fruit from the root that is our salvation.”
The fatal shooting spree — which left six Asian women, a white woman and a white man dead and a Hispanic man wounded — comes amid a wave of random violence against Asian-Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, but investigators said they could not yet determine whether Long would be charged with hate crimes.
“Nothing is going to be ruled out,” said Cherokee County sheriff ‘s Capt. Jay Baker. “Wherever the investigation leads us, that’s where we are going to go.”