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The husband of the shooting victim claims he was held for hours by police.

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The husband of the shooting victim claims he was held for hours by police.
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The husband of the shooting victim claims he was held for hours by police.

The husband of the shooting victim claims he was held for hours by police.

Police held him in handcuffs for four hours after the shooting that killed his wife at an Atlanta-area massage business last week, according to a man who survived the assault.

Mario Gonzalez said he was arrested outside the spa in a patrol car. The announcement, made in an interview with the Spanish-language news website Mundo Hispanico, comes after other criticism of Cherokee County officials investigating the March 16 attack, which killed four people. Four more people were killed an hour later at two Atlanta spas.

Gonzalez’s assertion also suggests that he remained in custody after police released surveillance camera photos of the accused gunman and authorities apprehended him 150 miles south of Atlanta. He asked whether officials treated him differently because he is Mexican.

An email requesting comment from the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office was not immediately returned Monday.

At the first crime scene near Woodstock, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Atlanta, Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old white man, is accused of shooting five people, including Gonzalez’s wife Delaina Ashley Yaun. One person was hurt. Seven of the slain victims were women, with six of them being Asian.

After telling reporters the day after the shootings that Long had “a very bad day” and “this is what he did,” Cherokee sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker was dismissed as the case’s spokesperson. Last year, a Facebook page claiming to be Baker’s marketed a T-shirt with racist language about China and the coronavirus.

Sheriff Frank Reynolds issued a statement in which he acknowledged that some of Baker’s remarks sparked “much controversy and frustration,” and expressed sorrow for any “heartache” caused by his speech.

Gonzalez and Yaun, both 33, had arranged for a babysitter for their infant daughter and planned to unwind at Youngs Asian Massage. When the gunman opened fire, they were in different rooms inside.

Gonzalez heard gunshots and was concerned for his wife, but he was afraid to open the door, he said in a video interview with Mundo Hispanico. Within minutes, deputies arrived. According to the website, Gonzalez said he was handcuffed and held for about four hours.

In the video, Gonzalez says, “They had me in the patrol car the whole time they were investigating who was responsible, who exactly did this.”

Gonzalez had handcuff scars on his wrists during the interview with Mundo Hispanico. “I’m not sure if it’s because I’m Mexican or because of the law. He said, “The simple truth is that they treated me badly.”

“They just told me she was dead when they eventually confirmed I was her husband,” he said. “I was hoping to find out sooner.”

Gonzalez said the gunman took “the most important thing I have in my life” as he was left alone to raise his daughter and his wife’s teenage son.

“He, like the others, deserves to die,” Gonzalez said.

The shooting in Cherokee County occurred about 5 p.m., according to authorities, and shortly after 6:30 p.m., the sheriff’s office shared still photos from a security camera showing a gunman in the parking lot outside on Facebook. Long’s family remembered him from the photos, according to Reynolds, and gave investigators his cellphone number, which they used to track him down.

Crisp County Sheriff Billy Hancock said his deputies and state troopers were informed about 8 p.m. that the suspect was heading their way in a video shared on Facebook that night. Around 8:30 p.m., deputies and troopers set up along the highway and saw the black 2007 Hyundai Tucson. Long was apprehended after a trooper executed a maneuver that caused the car to spin out of control.

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