BREAKING: Fulton DA to seek death penalty, hate crimes charges in spa shootings

Fulton DA Fani Willis will seek the death penalty against 22-year-old Robert Aaron Long

Atlanta’s top prosecutor announced on Tuesday afternoon that she will seek the death penalty against the accused gunman in the Atlanta area spa shootings.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis announced that her office will be seeking the death penalty against 22-year-old Robert Aaron Long. In her announcement, Willis reminded everyone of what she said during her campaign: that she could never imagine a circumstance where she would seek the death penalty. “Unfortunately, a case has arisen in the first few months of my term that I believe warrants the ultimate penalty. And we shall seek it.”

Court documents revealed that Willis also plans to charge Long with a hate crime and domestic terrorism, highlighting the fact that most of the victims in the shootings are of Asian decent. Georgia’s new hate crimes law, which was passed last year following the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, is not a stand-alone crime. “After a person is convicted of an underlying crime, a jury must determine whether it’s a hate crime, which carries an additional penalty,” according to WSB-TV.

Reactions to Willis’ decision began pouring in as she was making her announcement. State Sen. Michelle Au (D-Johns Creek), the first and only Chinese-American woman in the Georgia Senate, said on Twitter that the murders were horrific but that the death penalty is fundamentally wrong. “Both of these things can be true at the same time,” Au said.

State Rep. Bee Nguyen (D-Atlanta), a candidate for Georgia Secretary of State, was also critical of Willis’ decision. Nguyen, who is Vietnamese-American, praised the decision to charge Long with hate crimes but said that she diverges at the death penalty. “I do not believe that brings justice for anyone,” she tweeted.