On Saturday, a white man burst into a Dollar General near the historically Black college Edward Waters University (EWU) in Jacksonville, FL and opened fire, killing two men and one woman before shooting himself. All of the victims were Black.
Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said, “This shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people.”
The identity of the gunman and his victims were released Sunday. Authorities believe that gunman Ryan Christopher Palmeter “acted alone and there is no evidence he was part of any group.”
The victims include Angela Michelle Carr, 52; Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr., who was 19; and 29-year-old Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, ABC News reports.
“This is a dark day in Jacksonville’s history. Any loss of life is tragic, but the hate that motivated the shooter’s killing spree adds an additional layer of heartbreak,” said Waters.
Clothed in a tactical vest, “the gunman was armed with an AR-15-style rifle that bore swastika markings, as well as a handgun.”
Earlier that day, the gunman had been spotted on EWU’s campus. Apparently, he refused to identify himself to campus security, and the officer asked him to leave. Per a statement from the university, “[t]he individual returned to their car and left campus without incident.”
According to authorities he texted his father at 1:18pm asking “him to check his computer.” Disturbingly, “the gunman had written ‘several manifestoes,’ including one to his parents, in which he detailed his ‘disgusting ideology of hate.’”
At 1:53pm, the parents called the Sheriff’s office, but it was too late—the shooting was already underway.
“EWU issued a public safety alert alerting students to the shooting, which occurred near its campus,” and students were sheltering in place inside their residence halls until the scene was fully cleared.
Sherri Onks, the special agent in charge of the FBI office in Jacksonville, “said federal officials had opened a civil rights investigation and would pursue the incident as a hate crime.”
“Hate crimes are always and will always remain a top priority for the FBI because they are not only an attack on a victim, they’re also meant to threaten and intimidate an entire community,” said Onks.
Many are comparing yesterday’s shooting to the Buffalo shooting last year where a white supremacist barged into a Tops supermarket killing ten Black people.
Donna Deegan, Mayor of Jacksonville believes the shooter chose this date because it coincided with the anniversary “of a mass shooting at a Jacksonville gaming event where two people were killed exactly five years earlier.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said, “He was targeting people based on their race. That is totally unacceptable. This guy killed himself rather than face the music and accept responsibility for his actions, and so he took the coward’s way out. But we condemn what happened in the strongest possible terms.”