Captain Jay Baker Faces Calls to Be Fired Over 'Bad Day' Remark, Racist T-shirt

Calls on social media are mounting for the firing of a Cherokee County Sheriff's Office official who said the white man accused of killing eight people, including six Asian women, in three shootings at Atlanta area massage parlors had a "bad day."

Captain Jay Baker, the director of communications and community relations for the sheriff's office, sparked a backlash over remarks he made at a press conference on Wednesday morning.

"He was pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope, and yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did," Baker said of 21-year-old suspect Robert Aaron Long.

Authorities at the news conference said Long had admitted to Tuesday's shootings, but insisted it was too early to determine if race was a motive. Baker said Long had told police the shootings were not racially motivated, and instead attributed it to a "sex addiction" and a desire to remove what he viewed as sources of temptation.

The comments, as well as the decision to focus on the suspect's narrative, prompted outrage and disbelief given that Long allegedly targeted Asian massage parlors and the victims included six Asian women. The shootings also came amid a documented spike in hate incidents against Asian Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.

The outrage grew after it emerged that a Facebook account apparently belonging to Baker had promoted shirts that featured racist language and blamed China for the pandemic. "Covid 19 IMPORTED VIRUS FROM CHY-NA," the shirts said.

Hey Captain Jay Baker with Cherokee Country Sheriff's Office... this you?

— Rich Phelps (@RichPhelps) March 17, 2021

"Place your order while they last," Baker apparently wrote with a smiley face emoji alongside a picture of the shirts in a post on March 30 last year.

"Love my shirt... Get yours while they last," he reportedly wrote alongside pictures of the shirts in April.

The photos were first shared in a tweet on Wednesday that soon went viral. The Facebook account has since been deleted.

Newsweek has asked Baker and Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds for comment.

Reynolds, who was apparently friends with Baker on Facebook, told The Daily Beast that he was not aware of the posts. "I will have to contact him, but thank you for bringing that to my attention," he said.

The Facebook posts, as well as the comments that were perceived as empathetic to the suspect, prompted "Jay Baker" to trend on Twitter.

Hundreds of Twitter users also called for Baker's dismissal using hashtags including #JayBakerResign and #FireJayBaker.

We need @CherokeeSO Captain Jay Baker to resign. This is white supremacy. Call it out for what it is.

— Aaron Stewart-Ahn (@somebadideas) March 17, 2021

"We need @CherokeeSO Captain Jay Baker to resign. This is white supremacy. Call it out for what it is," wrote Aaron Stewart-Ahn, a director and cinematographer.

"Jay Baker is not fit to serve and needs to resign immediately," Jeremy Wein tweeted.

"Jay Baker either needs to resign or be fired,@cherokeeSO," Nathan Schneider added.

In the comments of a Facebook post on the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office page marking St. Patrick's Day, dozens of people urged Reynolds to dismiss Baker.

"Fire Jay Baker NOW," one person wrote.

Another said: "Captain Jay Baker needs to lose his job. A history of racist social media posts, and now sympathizing with a killer and downplaying the murder of 8 people. Reprehensible."

Another said: "As a law officer for 24 years I can't believe how stupid and insensitive Capt Baker's statement was! It would be so in any case but especially now! He needs look for another job! Sheriff Reynolds you need to make a tough decision!"

Captain Jay Baker
Captain Jay Baker, of the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, speaks at a press conference on March 17, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. Megan Varner/Getty Images