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Crime: Shooting victim's husband says police detained him for hours

Atlanta shooting victim's husband says police detained him for hours

  Atlanta shooting victim's husband says police detained him for hours Mario Gonzalez said he was held in a patrol car outside the spa. The revelation, in an interview with Mundo Hispanico, a Spanish-language news website, follows other criticism of Cherokee County officials investigating the March 16 attack, which killed four people. Four others were killed about an hour later at two spas in Atlanta.Gonzalez’s accusation would also mean that he remained detained after police released security video images of the suspected gunman and after authorities captured him 150 miles south of Atlanta. He questioned whether his treatment by authorities was because he's Mexican.

ATLANTA (AP) — A man who survived the shooting that killed his wife at an Atlanta-area massage business last week said police treated him badly, detaining him in handcuffs for four hours after the attack.

FILE - In this March 17, 2021, file photo, after dropping off flowers Jesus Estrella, left, and Shelby stand in support of the Asian and Hispanic community outside Young's Asian Massage in Acworth, Ga. The murder case against Robert Aaron Long, a white man accused of shooting and killing six women of Asian descent and two other people at Atlanta-area massage businesses, could become the first big test for Georgia’s new hate crimes law. (Curtis Compton /Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this March 17, 2021, file photo, after dropping off flowers Jesus Estrella, left, and Shelby stand in support of the Asian and Hispanic community outside Young's Asian Massage in Acworth, Ga. The murder case against Robert Aaron Long, a white man accused of shooting and killing six women of Asian descent and two other people at Atlanta-area massage businesses, could become the first big test for Georgia’s new hate crimes law. (Curtis Compton /Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)

Mario Gonzalez said he was held in a patrol car outside the spa. The revelation, in an interview with Mundo Hispanico, a Spanish-language news website, follows other criticism of Cherokee County officials investigating the March 16 attack, which killed four people. Four others were killed about an hour later at two spas in Atlanta.

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Captain Jay Baker, of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, speaks about the arrest of Robert Aaron Long during a press conference at the Atlanta Police Department headquarters in Atlanta, Wednesday, March 17, 2021. Long is accused of killing multiple people, most of whom were of Asian descent, at massage parlors in the Atlanta area. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Captain Jay Baker, of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, speaks about the arrest of Robert Aaron Long during a press conference at the Atlanta Police Department headquarters in Atlanta, Wednesday, March 17, 2021. Long is accused of killing multiple people, most of whom were of Asian descent, at massage parlors in the Atlanta area. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Gonzalez’s accusation would also mean that he remained detained after police released security video images of the suspected gunman and after authorities captured him 150 miles south of Atlanta. He questioned whether his treatment by authorities was because he's Mexican.

The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Monday.

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Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man, is accused of shooting five people, including Gonzalez's wife Delaina Ashley Yaun, at the first crime scene near Woodstock, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Atlanta. One man was wounded. In all, seven of slain victims were women, six of them of Asian descent.

FILE - In this March 17, 2021, file photo, Jessica Lang pauses and places her hand on the door in a moment of grief after dropping off flowers with her daughter Summer at Youngs Asian Massage parlor where four people were killed in Acworth, Ga. While the U.S. has seen mass killings in recent years where police said gunmen had racist or misogynist motivations, advocates and scholars say the shootings this week at three Atlanta-area massage parlors targeted a group of people marginalized in more ways than one, in a crime that stitches together stigmas about race, gender, migrant work and sex work. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this March 17, 2021, file photo, Jessica Lang pauses and places her hand on the door in a moment of grief after dropping off flowers with her daughter Summer at Youngs Asian Massage parlor where four people were killed in Acworth, Ga. While the U.S. has seen mass killings in recent years where police said gunmen had racist or misogynist motivations, advocates and scholars say the shootings this week at three Atlanta-area massage parlors targeted a group of people marginalized in more ways than one, in a crime that stitches together stigmas about race, gender, migrant work and sex work. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File)

Cherokee sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker was removed as spokesman for the case after telling reporters the day after the shootings that Long had “a really bad day” and “this is what he did.” A Facebook page appearing to belong to Baker promoted a T-shirt with racist language about China and the coronavirus last year.

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Sheriff Frank Reynolds released a statement acknowledging that some of Baker’s comments stirred “much debate and anger” and said the agency regretted any “heartache” caused by his words.

Gonzalez and Yaun, 33, had gotten a babysitter for their infant daughter and went to Youngs Asian Massage to relax. They were in separate rooms inside when the gunman opened fire.

Gonzalez heard the gunshots and worried about his wife but was too afraid to open the door, he told Mundo Hispanico in a video interview. Deputies arrived within minutes. Gonzalez said they put him in hand cuffs and detained him for about four hours, according to the website.

“They had me in the patrol car the whole time they were investigating who was responsible, who exactly did this,” Gonzalez said in Spanish in the video.

During the interview with Mundo Hispanico, Gonzalez showed marks on his wrists from handcuffs. “I don’t know whether it’s because of the law or because I’m Mexican. The simple truth is that they treated me badly,” he said.

“Only when they finally confirmed I was her husband, did they tell me that she was dead," he said. "I wanted to know earlier.”

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Left alone to raise their daughter and his wife's teenage son, Gonzalez said the shooter took “the most important thing I have in my life."

"He deserves to die, just like the others did,” Gonzalez said.

Authorities have said the shooting in Cherokee County happened around 5 p.m., and just after 6:30 p.m. the sheriff's office posted on Facebook still images from a surveillance camera showing a suspect in the parking lot outside. Reynolds said Long's family recognized him from those images and gave investigators his cellphone information, which they used to track him.

Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock said in a video posted on Facebook that night that his deputies and state troopers were notified around 8 p.m. that the suspect was headed their way. Deputies and troopers set up along the interstate and saw the black 2007 Hyundai Tucson around 8:30 p.m. A trooper performed a maneuver that caused the vehicle to spin out of control, and Long was taken into custody.

Long is now charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault. Crabapple First Baptist Church in Milton, where Long's family has long worshipped, said Sunday that it voted to remove him from its membership, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The church had previously said in a statement on its website that it “can no longer affirm that he is truly a regenerate believer in Jesus Christ.”

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Associated Press writer Michael Warren contributed to this report.

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