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President Joe Biden on Thursday ordered the American flag to fly at half-staff at the White House, military grounds and other federal government buildings through Monday "as a mark of respect" for the eight people killed in Tuesday's spree shooting at three Atlanta-area spas.
Biden, who called the shooting "senseless," likewise lowered the flag at all embassies and other international U.S. facilities.
Six of the victims were Asian women. All eight were fatally shot at three different massage parlors — a massacre that comes as violence has been rising against Asian Americans, experts say.
Local investigators have said that the suspect, a 21-year-old man, seemed to have a sex addiction and the spas were "a temptation for him that he wanted to eliminate." He "may have frequented some of these places in the past," the Cherokee County, Georgia, sheriff said Wednesday.
The investigation is ongoing.
"Whatever the motivation here, I know Asian Americans are — they are very concerned, because as you know I have been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans for the last couple of months and I think it is very, very troubling," Biden said Wednesday, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office.
Patrick Semansky/AP/Shutterstock The White House in January
Last week, Biden, 78, condemned racism against Asian Americans during a primetime television address about the COVID-19 pandemic, calling hateful rhetoric and violence "un-American" and urging it to end.
"At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans, they're on the front lines of this pandemic trying to save lives," Biden said. "And still — still — they are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It's wrong, it's un-American and it must stop."
Numerous other local and national political figures have spoken out in the wake of the violence.
"Knowing the increasing level of hate crime against our Asian American brothers and sisters, we also want to speak out in solidarity with them and acknowledge that none of us should ever be silent in the face of any form of hate," said Harris, 56, the first person of Asian descent to become vice president.
"We're not yet clear about the motive," she added. "But I do want to say to our Asian American community that we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged all people."
To learn more and to report crimes, go to: Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Stop the AAPI Hate, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, and Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council.