Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office will no longer serve as the spokesperson in the Atlanta-area spas shooting investigation.
Baker has been taken off the case amid backlash over the controversial comments he made about the shooting suspect, 21-year-old Robert Long, who is accused of killing six Asian women and two others at spas in the Atlanta area on March 16.
theGRIO previously reported, Baker’s role as director of communications and community relations at the sheriff’s office is being called into question as many advocates are highlighting his swift claim that it was too early to determine if the suspect was motivated by race, yet mentioned that the suspect told officials he had sex addiction issues and his intent was to “take out that temptation.”
Baker’s critics believe he downplayed the killings during a news conference on Wednesday by saying Long had “a really bad day” when he went on the shooting spree.
Baker told reporters that Long “was pretty much fed up, at the end of his rope and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.”
Hours after his comments, the hashtag #ReallyBadDay began trending on Twitter. Baker’s social media activity also became a trending topic when it was revealed that he once promoted anti-Asian apparel online. In April 2020, he shared an image of T-shirts based on the Corona beer label that said “Covid 19 IMPORTED VIRUS FROM CHY-NA” on Facebook
“Love my shirt,” He wrote on the post. “Get yours while they last.”
Baker’s personal Facebook page that promoted the xenophobic and racist merchandise has reportedly been been deleted.
On Thursday, the sheriff’s department issued a statement saying Baker will no longer be the spokesperson for the Spa Murders case and that his future with the department is under review.
“Comments made by Cherokee County Sheriffs Office Captain Jay Baker have become the subject of much debate and anger. In as much as his words were taken or construed as insensitive or inappropriate, they were not intended to disrespect any of the victims, the gravity of this tragedy, or express empathy or sympathy for the suspect,” Sheriff Frank Reynolds said in a statement. “There are simply no words to describe the degree of human suffering experienced on Tuesday March 16, 2021 in our community and in Atlanta. Captain Baker had a difficult task before him, and this was one of the hardest in his twenty-eight years in law enforcement.”
Reynolds apologized for any “heartache Captain Baker’s words may have caused,” and told WSB-TV that a “poor choice of words” was used during the press conference. He also called Baker’s Facebook activity “unfortunate.”
“That’s where we have to look at Jay’s future at the Sheriff’s Office and what it looks like,” Reynolds said. “We haven’t made that determination yet.”
*theGRIO’s Jessica Floyd contributed to the report.
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!