NYPD beefing up patrols after Georgia spa shootings, Asian Americans on edge

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The NYPD is beefing up patrols across New York City in the wake of the deadly shooting at three spas in Georgia that left eight people dead.

There are no specific threats, officials said, but the added patrols in Asian communities was being done out of an abundance of caution.

"There is today a major deployment of NYPD counterterrorism forces in communities around the city," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "Including some of most prominent Asian communities in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn."

There has been an uptick in crimes against those of Asian descent over the past several weeks and months.

"We have nothing to do with the virus," said Justin Yu, with the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. "Asian Americans suffered same, just like the rest of the American people."

RELATED | Shootings at 3 Georgia spas leave 8 dead; Alleged gunman charged with murder

Chinatown remains clouded with fear.

"You can look at our empty row of restaurants, and they're talking about there's simply no customers," said Wellington Chen, of the Chinatown Partnership

Mayoral candidate Scott Stringer said more steps must be taken to keep people safe.

"We have to get violence interrupters into communities and people feel safe and secure," he said.

And mayor candidate Andrew Yang urged New Yorkers to stay vigilant.

"We can't give in to fear," he said. "We cannot think we're not able to go out and live our lives."

Nassau County officials said they were also increasing the police presence as a result of the murders.

"In light of the recent shootings and fatalities in Georgia, the Nassau County Police Department will be intensifying patrols around all areas of concern to ensure the safety of our communities," said County Executive Laura Curran and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder in a joint statment. "Although there are no credible threats in Nassau County, all residents are reminded to call 911 if they see or hear anything suspicious. Our condolences and prayers go out to the victims and their families of these heinous attacks."

RELATED | 'Really bad day': Sheriff spokesperson criticized for minimizing alleged Georgia gunman's deadly rampage

Robert Aaron Long, 21, is accused of unleashing a barrage of bullets into three spas in the Atlanta area Tuesday.

He told police the attack was not racially motivated, claiming to have a "sex addiction" and apparently he lashed out at what he saw as sources of temptation. Six of the victims were identified as Asian and seven were women.

The shootings appear to be at the "intersection of gender-based violence, misogyny and xenophobia," Georgia state Rep. Bee Nguyen said, the first Vietnamese American to serve in the Georgia House and a frequent advocate for women and communities of color.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said that regardless of the shooter's motivation, "it is unacceptable, it is hateful and it has to stop."

The attack was the sixth mass killing this year in the U.S., and the deadliest since the August 2019 Dayton killing that took the lives of nine people, according to a database compiled by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* More New York City news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
* Follow us on YouTube
Submit a News Tip
Copyright © 2021 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.