JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — A white man wearing a mask and firing a weapon emblazoned with a swastika gunned down three Black people Saturday in a racist attack in Jacksonville, Florida. The shooter, who had also posted racist writings, then killed himself. Here’s what is known about the killings:
The shooting happened Saturday afternoon at a Dollar General store in New Town, a predominantly Black neighborhood of Jacksonville, Florida. The store is near Edward Waters University, a historically Black school with about 1,000 students. The school said the man was spotted on campus by a security guard shortly before the shooting and asked to leave when he refused to identify himself. He was seen putting on his bullet-resistant vest and mask before he drove away. Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said Sunday that it does not appear that he intended to attack the school.
Ryan Palmeter, 21, who lived in neighboring Clay County with his parents. Sheriff Waters said Palmeter had been involved in a 2016 domestic violence incident that did not lead to an arrest and was involuntarily committed for a 72-hour mental health examination the following year. Palmeter used two guns — a Glock handgun and an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. Waters said they were purchased legally earlier this year.
Angela Michelle Carr, 52, who was shot in her car outside; store employee A.J. Laguerre, 19, who was shot as he tried to flee; and customer Jerrald Gallion, 29, who was shot as he entered the store. No one else was injured.
Racism. During the attack, Palmeter texted his father and told him to break into his room and check his computer. There, the father found a suicide note, a will and racist writings from his son. The family notified authorities, but by then the shooting had already begun, the sheriff said. Officials say there were writings to his family, federal law enforcement and at least one media outlet. At least one of the guns had swastikas painted on it. Sheriff Waters said that the shooter made clear in his writings that he hated Black people.
After the shooting, the school was put on lockdown for several hours and the students were kept in their dorm rooms for their safety. The school says no students or staff were involved in the shooting.
Florida State Rep. Angie Nixon: “We must be clear, it was not just racially motivated, it was racist violence that has been perpetuated by rhetoric and policies designed to attack Black people, period.”
Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan: “I’ve heard some people say that some of the rhetoric that we hear doesn’t really represent what’s in people’s hearts, it’s just the game. It’s just the political game. Those three people who lost their lives, that’s not a game. That’s the reality of what we’re dealing with. Please let us stop viewing each other as pieces on a game board, and let us please start to see each other’s humanity. “
Rudolph McKissick, senior pastor of the historic Bethel Church in Jacksonville: “As it began to unfold, and I began to see the truth of it, my heart ached on several levels.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis: “This guy killed himself rather than face the music and accept responsibility for his actions. He took the coward’s way out.”
LaTonya Thomas, a Jacksonville resident riding a charter bus home after the 60th anniversary commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: “It made the march even more important because, of course, gun violence and things of that nature seem so casual now. Now you have employees, customers that will never go home.”
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland: “No person in this country should have to live in fear of hate-fueled violence and no family should have to grieve the loss of a loved one to bigotry and hate. One of the Justice Department’s first priorities upon its founding in 1870 was to bring to justice white supremacists who used violence to terrorize Black Americans. That remains our urgent charge today. The Justice Department will never stop working to protect everyone in our country from unlawful acts of hate.”