The attacks took place at two spas in the city, and at a massage parlour in the suburb of Acworth, which is located approximately 30 miles north of Atlanta (via the BBC).
It has been confirmed that four of the victims were women of Korean descent, and there are concerns that the attack could have been racially-motivated.
The suspect, named as Robert Aaron Long, faces multiple counts of murder as well as aggravated assault.
what happened yesterday in Atlanta was brutal, tragic & is certainly not an isolated incident by any means. AAPI hate has been rampantly perpetuated & it’s disgusting! I’m heartbroken for the Asian community & my heart is with the loved ones of those we lost. The hate must stop. pic.twitter.com/rkxZDnxG9E
— Rihanna (@rihanna) March 18, 2021
— Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) March 17, 2021
The hashtag #StopAsianHate has since begun trending on Twitter, with many highlighting the racism and anti-Asian discrimination in the US.
“What happened yesterday in Atlanta was brutal, tragic & is certainly not an isolated incident by any means,” wrote Rihanna. “AAPI hate has been rampantly perpetuated & it’s disgusting! I’m heartbroken for the Asian community & my heart is with the loved ones of those we lost. The hate must stop.”
Ariana Grande, meanwhile, shared a post which called for the shooting to be classed as a “hate crime against Asian Americans.”
Elsewhere, Timberlake retweeted a statement from the NAACP condemning the killings, which they described as “A disgusting and disturbing example of how the spread of domestic terrorism has been allowed to torment communities.”
Ariana Via Instagram Stories pic.twitter.com/ILHj09dujG
— Ariana Grande Update 🦋 (@ArianatorFallen) March 17, 2021
A disgusting and disturbing example of how the spread of domestic terrorism has been allowed to torment communities.
These acts are the visible manifestation of hateful words birthing hateful acts!
— NAACP (@NAACP) March 17, 2021
Other stars to speak out included Japanese Breakfast’s Michelle Zauner.
Zauner, who is Korean-American, wrote on Twitter that the problem is “very real” while sharing screenshots of various racist responses to the news.
Like literally fuck this fuck you if you have ever made this joke https://t.co/rFsAOPVV8W
— Japanese Breakfast (@Jbrekkie) March 17, 2021
Accused shooter Long has since denied that the killings were racially motivated, and instead claims to have been suffering from a sex addiction.