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Police Step Up Security In Chicago's Asian-American Communities After Shooting Rampage Near Atlanta

CHICAGO (CBS Chicago/CBS News) -- Chicago Police have stepped up security in Asian-American neighborhoods after the shooting rampage in the Atlanta area that killed eight people this week.

Robert Aaron Long, 21, is accused of the attacks at three spas on Tuesday. The eight victims included six Asian women.

The killings sparked outrage in the Asian American community, which has faced a dramatic spike in violence during the coronavirus pandemic.

The shootings began at a spa in Cherokee County, about 30 miles north of Atlanta. Police later responded to shootings at two Atlanta spas across the street from each other.

The suspected gunman has denied the attack was racially motivated, authorities said during a news conference on Wednesday. Officials said the suspect indicated he "has some issues, potentially sexual addiction," and said he viewed the spas as a temptation he wanted to eliminate.

Authorities said the suspect claimed he was heading to Florida to "go do some similar act" on "some type of porn industry," but didn't provide additional details. Despite the suspect's claims, police said it was too early to rule out a hate crime.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she believes that is exactly what it was.

"Make no mistake, this was a hate crime," Lightfoot said Wednesday.

"This was a crime that has shown a harsh light on the anti-Asian violence and hateful rhetoric that has been on the rise since COVID-19 became a global pandemic," she continued, "and fanned by the hateful rhetoric of our former president in this country."

Lightfoot said she checked in with Chicago Police Supt. David Brown about any credible threats to the city's Asian communities.

"I want to remind folks, and hopefully this will be of some comfort, we have no actual intelligence regarding a specific threat against our Asian or Pacific Islander communities here in Chicago," Lightfoot said.

She added: "I want to say directly to our neighbors and our friends in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities: You are not alone. We stand united with you; and if you see something, please say something."

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