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Georgia sheriff’s deputy criticized for comment on shooting suspect, Facebook post

“He was pretty much fed up and had been kind of at the end of his rope,” Capt. Jay Baker said. “Yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.”

Captain Jay Baker
Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s office, right, speaking to news media on Wednesday. Nicole Craine/The New York Times

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A sheriff’s deputy in Georgia who has been a main conduit for information about the deadly rampage at three Atlanta-area massage businesses faced criticism Wednesday for saying that Tuesday “was a really bad day” for the suspect, and for an anti-Asian Facebook post that he made last year.

At a news conference, the deputy, Capt. Jay Baker, spokesperson for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, discussed the frame of mind of the man charged with eight counts of murder in Tuesday’s shootings. He said that the suspect, Robert Aaron Long, 21, of Woodstock, Georgia, understood the gravity of his actions when he was interviewed by investigators Wednesday morning.

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“He was pretty much fed up and had been kind of at the end of his rope,” Baker said. “Yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.”

The comments were widely panned on social media, with critics characterizing them as callous and pointing to a Facebook post from March 30 of last year by Baker, in which he promoted sales of an anti-Asian T-shirt. The shirts, echoing rhetoric of former President Donald Trump, referred to the coronavirus as an “imported virus from Chy-na.”

“Place your order while they last,” Baker wrote at the time. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

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News outlets BuzzFeed and The Daily Beast published stories about Baker’s comments and Facebook post on Wednesday, and actress Arden Cho and others condemned them on social media.

“Cop says it’s not a hate crime, it’s him just having a bad day,” Cho wrote on Twitter. “Oh ok.. NO. It’s because you’re a racist also Jay Baker.”

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