On Tuesday night, a 21-year-old White man went to three separate massage parlors, where he shot and killed six Asian women and two others in an evening shooting spree in Atlanta, Georgia. He then headed toward Florida so he could kill more people according to his statement to law enforcement.
The day following those murders, as the entire nation grieved the most shocking instance of a recent uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States, Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee Sheriff's Office told reporters the gunmen "realized what he did" and "yesterday was a really bad day for him."
"Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did" -- a law enforcement official explains Robert Aaro… https://t.co/w45sJL7eNx— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1615993838.0
Not surprisingly, people were outraged the suspect of a mass shooting would be treated so gently by law enforcement officials.
I was speechless after watching that press conference. Thanks @divafeminist for laying out what was so bone-chilli… https://t.co/JIyCrliyw8— Kimberlé Crenshaw (@Kimberlé Crenshaw)1616011303.0
But new reporting from BuzzFeed News has shed some light on the captain who made the comment that infuriated so many.
Back in April 2020, when the pandemic was relatively new and conspiracy theories abounded, Baker posted photos on Facebook that showed some new racist shirts he'd evidently just purchased and proudly showed off.
The message demonstrated the same anti-Asian hate that contributed to the gunman's attack in Atlanta:
"Covid 19 IMPORTED VIRUS FROM CHY-NA."
Jay Baker/Facebook via BuzzFeed News
Baker's approach to the lethal gunman was well informed by his own very publicly flaunted views.
BuzzFeed News went on to report they reached out to Baker for comment, he did not respond, and then the post became unavailable.
People who discovered the update were as livid as they were not surprised.
@skbaer @BuzzFeedNews Not fit to be in a position of authority.— Rich Swinton 🇺🇸 (@Rich Swinton 🇺🇸)1616021108.0
@skbaer @bajabug @BuzzFeedNews I got the creepy Klansman Kop vibe from him the minute he leaned in on sex addiction… https://t.co/fMcFmJcbzb— Lesley Abravanel (@Lesley Abravanel)1616023386.0
@skbaer @Rschooley @BuzzFeedNews This guy really seems amused by or, at best, indifferent to other people's deaths.— Eric Williams (@Eric Williams)1616020422.0
@skbaer @MaddowBlog @BuzzFeedNews How are these people police officers ??? They're supposed to serve and protect ALL of us.— GinaG (@GinaG)1616024492.0
@skbaer @Mike_Jung @BuzzFeedNews And this is the Dept. Spokesperson & Community Relations contact? Down ballot races are important too.— Claudia Pearson (@Claudia Pearson)1616020637.0
The shooter was charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault.
The incident has prompted a far-reaching response from people all across the United States. Even federal lawmakers have vowed to respond to the uptick in anti-Asian hate attacks, planning to hold their first hearing of the sort in over three decades.