Obama: Atlanta shootings show need for 'commonsense gun safety laws'

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Former President Barack Obama is calling for tighter gun control Wednesday in the wake of the Atlanta-area massage parlor shootings that have left eight people dead.

In a series of tweets, Obama wrote that despite the U.S. fighting the coronavirus pandemic, "we’ve continued to neglect the longer-lasting epidemic of gun violence in America."

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"Yesterday's shootings are another tragic reminder that we have far more work to do to put in place commonsense gun safety laws and root out the pervasive patterns of hatred and violence in our society," he continued. "Michelle and I pray for the victims, their families, everyone grieving these needless and devastating killings -- and we urge meaningful action that will save lives."

Law enforcement officials confer outside a massage parlor following a shooting on Tuesday in Atlanta. (AP)

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Obama added that "although the shooter’s motive is not yet clear, the identity of the victims underscores an alarming rise in anti-Asian violence that must end."

Police have said so far they do not believe race played a role, but have yet to rule out a hate crime.

The suspsect, Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old from Woodstock, Ga., was arrested in Crisp County, about 150 miles south of Atlanta.

Long did not resist during his arrest, police officials said Wednesday. When investigators interviewed him later, he "made indicators that he has some issues, potentially sexual addiction, and may have frequented some of these places in the past," Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds told reporters.

Investigators are still working to determine the motive, but said the victims could have been "targets of opportunity," officials said.

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Long took "full responsibility" for the string of Tuesday night attacks that left eight people dead and another person injured, authorities said Wednesday.

Police officials said the events were not believed to have been racially motivated, and Long instead allegedly opened fire because he saw the locations as "an outlet for him" to succumb to purported sex-addiction temptations, police and officials said during a news conference.

Long, 21, was allegedly on his way to Florida at the time of his Tuesday night arrest and indicated he was potentially going "to carry out additional shootings," Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at the news conference.

Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.

Greg Norman Fox News