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Fulton DA: Cherokee County case with spa shootings suspect to be resolved in upcoming arraignment

Robert Aaron Long is charged with multiple counts of murder following the shootings that took place at three spas in two jurisdictions - Atlanta and Cherokee County.

ATLANTA — The Fulton County District Attorney's Office confirmed they have been notified that the Cherokee County case regarding the metro Atlanta spa shooting spree suspect is expected to be resolved at an arraignment hearing scheduled for next week.

Robert Aaron Long is facing several counts of murder for the shootings that took place at three spas in two jurisdictions - Atlanta and Cherokee County. Eight people died in the shooting spree. 

When 11Alive reached out for comment, a spokeswoman for Cherokee County District Attorney Shannon Wallace confirmed the arraignment hearing is scheduled next week for Long, but added “District Attorney Shannon Wallace is ethically prohibited from discussing any type of plea negotiation.”

Long faces four counts of felony murder in Fulton County, along with domestic terrorism and aggravated assault charges. 

On Monday, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis filed a motion requesting Long be transferred to the Fulton County Jail following his scheduled arraignment in Cherokee County. Willis also requested Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville to schedule an arraignment for Long in Fulton County “on or before August 6, 2021, or as soon as practical,” according to the district attorney’s motion. 

During a May press conference, Willis said she plans to seek the death penalty in Long’s case.

Credit: Crisp County Sheriff's Office
Robert Aaron Long, 21, is suspected in eight killings at three different massage spas in metro Atlanta.

Police have said Long alone shot and killed four people, three of them women and two of Asian descent, at Young's Asian Massage near Woodstock just before 5 p.m. on March 16. He also shot and wounded a fifth person, investigators said.

"Obviously the goal has been to avoid the trauma, reliving the trauma of having to testify," said attorney Doug Rohan who represents the surviving victim Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz.

"His health is overall improving physically. The next and long recovery will be for his mental health," Rohan said. 

In his expert opinion, Rohan said there have been indications the Cherokee County case is likely to end with a plea deal. Such an ending is what Rohan's client has hoped for. 

"The fact that a plea was possible or likely was something that we have discussed on numerous occasions and certainly would be the best possible solution to save him from that repeat trauma," Rohan said. 

Hernandez-Ortiz, who is uninsured, has been unable to return to work and has received more than $500,000 in medical bills, according to Rohan. An online fundraiser remains active to help with the expenses.

Following the shooting in Cherokee County, Long then drove about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south to Atlanta according to prosecutors, where he allegedly shot and killed three women at Gold Spa before going across the street to Aromatherapy Spa and fatally shooting another woman, police have said. 

RELATED: These are the victims of the metro Atlanta spa shootings

All of the Atlanta victims were women of Asian descent. After the shootings at the two Atlanta spas, Long got back into his car and headed south on the interstate, police said.

Police said Long’s parents called authorities to help after recognizing their son in still images from security video that the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office posted on social media. They provided cellphone information that allowed authorities to track their son to rural Crisp County, about 140 miles (225 kilometers) south of Atlanta.

State troopers and sheriff’s deputies spotted his SUV on Interstate 75, and one of them forced Long to spin to a stop by bumping his vehicle. Long then surrendered to authorities.

In an initial interview with investigators, Long claimed to have a “sex addiction,” and authorities said he apparently lashed out at businesses he viewed as a temptation. But those statements spurred outrage and widespread skepticism given the locations and that six of the eight victims were women of Asian descent.

11Alive has reached out to Long's attorney for comment about the upcoming arraignment hearing. We are waiting to hear back.

D.A. Willis released the following statement: 

"After Mr. Long concludes his hearing in Cherokee County, I want to ensure that the process in Fulton County proceeds as quickly as possible.  The victims of the crimes Mr. Long is accused of committing in Fulton County deserve no less."