Speed Reads

metro atlanta shootings

Sheriff says he regrets 'heartache' caused by spokesman's comments on Georgia spa shooting

Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds issued a statement on Thursday saying the department regrets "any heartache" caused by the remarks of a spokesman, Capt. Jay Baker, who said the suspect in three shootings at Asian spas in Georgia was having "a bad day."

The shootings left eight people dead, including four victims at Young's Asian Massage in Cherokee County. During a Wednesday press conference, Baker said the suspect, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long, told officers he had a "sex addiction," and was "fed up, at the end of his rope." Long, he continued, was "having a bad day, and this is what he did." Baker's remarks were immediately criticized for being insensitive.

Reynolds said there are "simply no words to describe the degree of human suffering experienced on Tuesday," and Baker's comments were "not intended to disrespect any of the victims, the gravity of this tragedy, or express empathy or sympathy for the suspect." Reynolds added that he has "known and served with Capt. Baker for many years, and his personal ties to the Asian community and his unwavering support and commitment to the citizens of Cherokee County are well known to many."

On Wednesday, The Associated Press reported that a Facebook page that appeared to belong to Baker posted a picture last year of a T-shirt with a racist message about China and COVID-19. The account was deleted on Wednesday night. After Reynolds issued his statement, an official said Baker is no longer the spokesman for the spa shooting case.