Deputy Who Said Shooting Suspect Had a 'Bad Day' Posted Facebook Messages Blaming COVID on China

A Georgia sheriff's captain is facing backlash for controversial comments he made after the fatal shootings of eight people at Atlanta-area spas and two Facebook posts that blamed the spread of COVID-19 on China.

Robert Aaron Long, 21, was arrested and charged on Wednesday with shooting eight people, including six Asian women. In a press conference after the shooting, Captain Jay Baker told reporters about the man's state of mind at the time.

"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 criticized on social media, with critics alleging that Baker had callously minimized the murders. Hours after Baker's comments, the hashtag #ReallyBadDay began trending on Twitter, with more than 40,000 tweets.

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Now, according to the New York Times, some critics have unearthed controversial comments that Baker made on Facebook last year. On March 30 and April 2 of 2020, Baker promoted sales of a T-shirt that referred to COVID-19 as an "imported virus from Chy-na."

"Place your order while they last," Captain Baker captioned one of the posts. The posts were on a private Facebook account presumably maintained by Baker.

After the story of the controversial Facebook posts was broken by Buzzfeed, the public Facebook posts were made private.

Baker is the director of communications and community relations at the sheriff's office. He has not responded to PEOPLE's request for comment, nor will the sheriff's office comment on Baker's Facebook posts.

Long faces eight counts of murder in Tuesday's shootings. He has not yet entered a plea. The killings have not been classified as hate crimes.

To learn more and to report crimes, go to: Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Stop the AAPI Hate, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, and Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council.

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