"I am deeply saddened by the events that took place in Atlanta yesterday and although there is no definitive answer yet on what this investigation will bring, I feel now is the time to address the rise in hate crimes against ALL races over the last few years," Koo wrote. "... I realize now more than ever that this is an issue that needs to be addressed and that ignoring it won't help us do that."
Falcons owner Arthur Blank issued a statement as well: "The rise in violence and hate, specifically towards the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, is inconceivable, unacceptable, and cannot be tolerated."
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, six of the eight victims were Asian women. The suspect, a 21-year-old man who has been arrested, allegedly shot and killed eight people in three different spas in the Atlanta area over the course of 45 minutes on Tuesday evening.
The shootings come as hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise.
The nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate tracks acts of hate, violence, bullying, discrimination and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country. The group said in February it documented 2,808 reports of "anti-Asian hate" in at least 47 states and the District of Columbia from March 19, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020.
With the COVID-19 pandemic beginning to take hold in the U.S., the FBI warned last March that hate crimes against Asian Americans could increase because the virus was first identified in China. Many contend politicians, including former President Donald Trump, stoked the level of animosity by labeling COVID-19 the "Wuhan virus" or "Chinese virus."