A Georgia sheriff was forced to issue a mea culpa Thursday after a police captain said the accused Atlanta spa shooter had a “bad day” before he shot dead eight people — insisting the comments were not intended to be disrespectful.
Responding to the furor over the controversial comments — which critics blasted as insensitive and racist — Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds said that Capt. Jay Baker’s remarks during a press conference Wednesday “were not intended to disrespect any of the victims,” according to a press release posted on Twitter.
Robert Aaron Long, 21, is charged with shooting up three Atlanta-area spas on Tuesday, killing eight people and seriously injuring a ninth.
“Comments made by Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Captain Jay Baker have become the subject of much debate and anger,” Reynolds said in the statement.
“In as much as his words were taken or construed as insensitive or inappropriate, they were not intended to disrespect any of the victims, the gravity of this tragedy, or express empathy or sympathy for the suspect,” Reynolds said.
“There are simply no words to describe the degree of human suffering experienced on Tuesday, March 16, 2021, in our community and in Atlanta.”
Baker’s comments were made in regard to Long’s alleged confession to police that he suffered from a sex addiction, and was trying to “eliminate” his sexual “temptation.”
“He has an issue that he considers a sex addiction and sees these locations as something that allows him to go to these places,” Baker said during Wednesday’s press conference. “It’s a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate.”
In the statement Thursday — which stopped just short of an apology — Reynolds said he has known Baker “for many years,” and cited his “personal ties to the Asian community.”
“On behalf of the dedicated women and men of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, we regret any heartache Captain Baker’s words may have cause,” he said.
Six of the shooting victims were Asian women, police said.