Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, who on Wednesday seemingly downplayed the three spa shootings in which most of the victims were women of Asian descent, showed off racist shirts online that blamed Chinese people for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Place your order while they last,” Baker wrote with a smiley face in one post on March 30.
The police captain boosted the shirts again on April 2.
“Love my shirt,” he wrote. “Get yours while they last.”
Baker’s posts emerged amid backlash over his borderline sympathetic remarks on Wednesday about Robert Aaron Long, who has been charged with murder for allegedly fatally shooting eight people at three spas in the Atlanta area on Tuesday night. Six of the victims were women of Asian descent.
During a press briefing with other law enforcement officers and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday afternoon, Baker seemed to characterize Long as some sort of victim whose alleged crimes were the result of having a hard day.
“He was pretty much fed up, he’d been kind of at the end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him,” the police captain said. “And this is what he did.”
Long, who is set to appear in court via Zoom on Thursday, has been charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault after confessing to the massacre.
Authorities have said it is too early in the investigation to determine whether the shootings were motivated by racism. Long told investigators that they weren’t, according to law enforcement.
However, the attacks occurred during an ongoing surge of racist harassment and violence against Asian-Americans amid COVID-19, which ex-President Donald Trump frequently referred (and continues to refer after leaving office) to as “the China virus.”