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Atlanta shooting suspect's church condemns 'extreme and wicked act'

Atlanta shooting suspect's church condemns 'extreme and wicked act'
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The church of Atlanta shootings suspect Robert Aaron Long condemned his alleged actions in a lengthy post on its website Friday, calling the killings "an extreme and wicked act." 

Crabapple First Baptist Church released a statement mourning the victims of the series of shootings Tuesday night at massage parlors, which resulted in eight deaths.

"We heard the tragic news of the brutal murders of 8 individuals, six of whom were of Asian descent, and of the aggravated assault of one victim who survived. We were absolutely devastated at this senseless loss of life and callous disregard for human beings created in the image of God," the church wrote. 

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Crabapple First Baptist says it was "absolutely distraught" when it found out the suspected shooter was Long, a longtime member of their congregation. 

"The Long family have been members of our church for many years. We watched Aaron grow up and accepted him into church membership when he made his own profession of faith in Jesus Christ," it wrote. 

"These unthinkable and egregious murders directly contradict his own confession of faith in Jesus and the gospel," the church said.

Long, who has been charged with murder, has confessed to the shooting, according to authorities, telling police that he had a sex addiction and that the massage parlors he frequented presented a temptation that he sought to eliminate. Officials say it is too early to determine if the shootings were a hate crime. 

"In the strongest possible terms, we condemn the actions of Aaron Long as well as his stated reasons for carrying out this wicked plan," the church said. "The shootings were a total repudiation of our faith and practice, and such actions are completely unacceptable and contrary to the gospel." 

"No blame can be placed upon the victims. He alone is responsible for his evil actions and desires. The women that he solicited for sexual acts are not responsible for his perverse sexual desires nor do they bear any blame in these murders," it added. 

The shootings came as the U.S. is experiencing a large increase in violence and hate against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders amid the coronavirus pandemic, and lawmakers and Asian American leaders have voiced outrage after Long's arrest. 

“I’m stunned. We’ve seen the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes; we obviously have been fighting on gun violence. We don’t know what the [shooter’s] motivations are, but it feels very difficult to imagine there wasn’t something about anti-Asian hate in here,” Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who is Indian American, told The Hill.