WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he is waiting for more information about the Atlanta-area shootings before assigning a motive, but he called the deaths of Asian Americans “very, very troubling.”
“Whatever the motivation here, I know that Asian Americans are very concerned,” he said in brief remarks before a virtual meeting with Ireland’s prime minister. “I’m making no connection at this moment to the motivation of the killer.”
Biden, who noted that he’s “been speaking about the brutality against Asian Americans,” said he will have more to say when the investigation of the shootings at three massage parlors is further along.
At least one gunman killed eight people Tuesday, six of whom were women of Asian descent.
At a separate event, Vice President Kamala Harris said, in a message to “our Asian American community,” that “we stand with you and understand how this has frightened and shocked and outraged all people.”
First Lady Jill Biden said her heart is with the victim’s families.
“I hope that all Americans will join me in praying for everyone touched by this senseless tragedy,” she said at an event in New Hampshire.
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Authorities on Wednesday said the suspect may have previously frequented the businesses but that it was too early to determine if the shootings would be considered a hate crime.
At least four of the victims of the Atlanta-area massage parlor shootings were women of Korean descent, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. Two others were of Asian descent, police said.
When Biden addressed the nation last week, one year after the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, he decried the “vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans, who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated.”
“At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans, they’re on the front lines of this pandemic trying to save lives, and still, still they’re forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America,” he said. “It’s wrong. It’s un-American. And it must stop.”
Contributing: Jordan Culver, USA TODAY.