A white gunman opened fire at a Dollar General in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday afternoon, killing three Black people in what authorities are investigating as a hate crime.
“Plainly put, this shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people,” said Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters at a press conference on Saturday evening.
Authorities identified the victims on Sunday as Angela Michelle Carr, 52; Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr., 19; and Jarrald De’Shaun Gallion, 29.
The gunman, 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter, killed himself after the attack. He left behind “several manifestoes” detailing his “disgusting ideology of hate,” said Waters. The shooter wore a tactical vest and was armed with a handgun and an assault-style rifle with swastika markings.
In a press conference on Sunday, Waters said Palmeter legally purchased the guns in June. The gunman lived with his parents and had no criminal arrest history, said Waters, although he had been involuntarily committed under the Baker Act in 2017.
Before the shooting, Palmeter went to Edward Waters University, a nearby historically Black university, where he was confronted by campus security and asked to leave. EWU was among several Black colleges to receive anonymous bomb threats on the first day of Black History Month last year. “This is not by happenstance. We know that these are targeted attacks,” the college’s president, A. Zachary Faison, Jr., told NPR.
In a video statement, Gov. Ron DeSantis condemned the attack. “He was targeting people based on their race. That is totally unacceptable,” said DeSantis, who has advanced policies attacking education about critical race theory and promotes a public school new curriculum that suggests that some Black people benefited from slavery.
The shooting marks the latest high-profile racist attack by a white gunman in recent years. Last year, a gunman targeting Black people at a Buffalo, New York, grocery store killed 10 people, all of whom were Black. In 2019, an attack by a gunman targeting Mexican and Mexican American people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, that left 22 dead.