4 dead, including gunman, in ‘racially motivated’ shooting in Jacksonville: sheriff

Three people were killed in a “racially motivated” shooting at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, the local sheriff said.

The shooter took his own life after killing the three victims, all of whom were Black, Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said at a press conference Saturday evening. The gunman, who the sheriff described as a white man in his early 20s, had authored several manifestos ahead of the shooting.

“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.”

The shooter is believed to have resided in nearby Clay County with his parents, the sheriff said. After heading to Jacksonville, he texted his father and told him to check his computer, leading his family members to call the Clay County sheriff’s office a short while later. 

However, the gunman had already begun shooting by the time of the call, Waters said. He was outfitted with a tactical vest and armed with a Glock handgun and an AR-15-style rifle, which had swastikas drawn on it.

“This is a dark day in Jacksonville’s history,” Waters added. “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.”

Sherri Onks, the special agent in charge for FBI Jacksonville, said at the press conference that authorities have opened a federal civil rights investigation into the incident and will pursue it as a hate crime.

Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan said she is “heartbroken” by the shooting, noting that it occurred on the five-year anniversary of the Jacksonville Landing shooting that left two people dead and 10 injured. The shooter indicated in his manifesto that he was aware of the date, she added.

“This is a community that has suffered again and again,” Deegan said at Saturday’s press conference. “So many times, this is where we end up … It’s just something that should not and must not continue to happen in our community. It’s too often the same folks.” 

“We must do everything that we can to dissuade this type of hate,” she added. “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.”

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