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Members of the Bad Asian and Civic Walls groups paint a mural near Krog Street Tunnel in Atlanta in remembrance of the eight lives lost at the three spa shootings last week. Photo: Megan Varner via Getty Images

The 21-year-old white man who confessed to opening fire at three Atlanta-area spas and killing eight people, including six Asian women, has been charged with "malice murder" and aggravated assault, a county sheriff said Monday.

Why it matters: The killings spurred nationwide outrage over anti-Asian violence in the U.S. Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) leaders and public officials have called for police to rule the shootings a hate crime, arguing that law enforcement are unable to recognize a case of anti-Asian hate.

Details: Robert Aaron Long already faced eight charges of murder. The Cherokee Sheriff's Office also earlier charged him with one count of assault.

  • Malice murder is an offense in Georgia alleging implied or express malice. It's unclear whether a racial motive has been ruled out.

What they're saying: "In an effort to preserve the case for prosecution, the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office will not be making any additional comments about this case at this time," the sheriff's office said in a statement to news outlets.

The big picture: Anti-Asian racism has been on the rise since the pandemic started, with Asian women more than twice as likely to report hate incidents than Asian men, per Stop AAPI Hate.

  • Over 183 national organizations led by AAPI groups are calling on President Biden to set aside $300 million for addressing anti-Asian hate.
  • Last week, the president urged passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would improve hate crime tracking and tap a Justice Department official for reviewing COVID-related hate crimes, among other things.

Go deeper: Why attacks against the AAPI community are difficult to prosecute as hate crimes

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

First fatality confirmed in downtown Austin mass shooting

Police barricades near the scene of a shooting in Austin, Texas, on Saturday. Photo: Sergio Flores/Getty Images

A 25-year-old man died Sunday of injuries sustained in a mass shooting that wounded 13 other people in downtown Austin, Texas, the previous day, police confirmed.

Driving the news: Austin police named the victim as Douglas John Kantor, as they continued to search for one of two suspects. One suspect was taken into custody on Saturday following the shooting on 6th Street, a popular area with bars and restaurants.

Pelosi demands Barr and Sessions testify on data subpoenas

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during an event San Francisco, California, on Friday. Photo: Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CNN Sunday that former Attorneys General William Barr and Jeff Sessions should testify before Congress on reports that the Trump-era Department of Justice seized Democrats' and journalists' data records.

Driving the news: DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced Friday an internal investigation into the matter, and Pelosi expressed disbelief to CNN's Dana Bash at assertions that neither Barr nor Sessions knew of probes into lawmakers.

Updated 5 hours ago - World

Netanyahu is out as new Israeli government survives confidence vote

Photo: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty Images

Israel has a new prime minister for the first time since 2009 after a power-sharing government led by Naftali Bennett survived a confidence vote on Sunday. Bennett was sworn in as prime minister.

Why it matters: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister and the man around whom Israeli politics have revolved for a decade, will now become opposition leader. Bennett, a right-wing former Netanyahu protege, will lead the most ideologically diverse government in Israeli history.