A gunman shot and killed three people at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday in what the local sheriff described as a “racially motivated” shooting during a press conference held on Saturday evening.
On Sunday, the victims were identified by authorities as Angela Michelle Carr, 52; Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr., 19; and Jerrald Gallion, 29.
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A federal law enforcement official identified the gunman earlier on Sunday as Ryan Christopher Palmeter, 21, as The New York Times reports.
FBI special agent Sherri Onks said during a press conference on Saturday that the bureau has opened a federal civil rights investigation and that it is being treated as a hate crime.
After killing the victims, Palmeter killed himself, Sheriff T.K. Waters said. Palmeter, who was white, had written several manifestos — including one to his parents, one to the news media, and one to federal agents.
“Portions of these manifestos detailed the shooter’s disgusting ideology of hate,” Waters said. “Plainly put, this shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people.”
Palmeter had left his parents’ house in Orange Park in Clay County at around 11:40 a.m. After heading to nearby county Jacksonville, he texted his father, telling him to check his computer, which led his family to notify the Clay County’s sheriff’s office. By this point, he had already started shooting, Waters said.
He entered the Dollar General dressed in a tactical vest and was armed with a handgun and an AR-15 rifle, which had swastika markings on it, officials said. Prior to heading to the Dollar General, Palmeter was seen nearby on the campus of Edward Waters University, a historically Black institution, the sheriff said.
Palmeter refused to identify himself to an on-campus security officer and was asked to leave, the university said in a statement.
“The individual returned to their car and left campus without incident. The encounter was reported to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office by EWU security,” the school said.
During a press conference on Sunday, Waters said Palmeter obtained the firearms in June. Palmeter, who lived with his parents, did not have a criminal history. However, he had been temporarily involuntarily held under the Baker Act in 2017, the sheriff said. “In this situation, there was nothing illegal about him owning the firearms,” he said.
“This is a dark day in Jacksonville’s history,” Waters said during a press conference on Saturday. “Any loss of life is tragic, but the hate that motivated the shooter’s killing spree adds an additional layer of heartbreak. There’s no place for hate in our community, and this is not Jacksonville. As a member of this Jacksonville community, I am sickened by this cowardly shooter’s personal ideology of hate.”
Saturday’s shooting coincided with the five-year anniversary of a shooting at a videogame tournament in Jacksonville that left two people dead and 10 injured. Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan said the gunman’s manifestos suggested he was aware of the anniversary.
“We must do everything that we can to dissuade this type of hate,” Deegan said at the press conference. “I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating this is for all of us because we’ve seen it too much. We’ve seen it too much.”
This is a developing story…
This article was updated on Aug. 27 at 1:28 p.m. to include the identity of the gunman, and at 5:45 p.m. to include the victims’ names, a statement from Edward Waters University, and details about the gunman’s past and his obtaining firearms.
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