A gunman opened fire and killed three people in what officials are calling a racially motivated shooting in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday.
Three people were killed in what police called a “racially motivated” shooting at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville on Saturday afternoon. The gunman, identified as 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter, took his own life after shooting and killing the three victims.
Here’s what to know about the shooting:
Local law enforcement said gunman ‘hated Black people’
All three victims of the shooting were Black, Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said at a press conference Saturday evening.
He said the gunman — who was white — had authored numerous manifestos ahead of the shooting that signaled this attack was racially motivated.
“Portions of these manifestos detailed the shooter’s disgusting ideology of hate,” Waters said at Saturday’s press conference. “Plainly put, this shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people.”
On Sunday, Waters identified the victims as Angela Michelle Carr, 52; Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr., 19; and Jerrald Gallion, 29.
Gunman attempted to first enter historically Black college
Waters said Palmeter arrived at Edward Waters University — a historically Black college — early Saturday afternoon, where he was seen putting on a bulletproof vest.
The campus security engaged with Palmeter, who eventually left the campus without incident, the university said. The statement said the security official reported the incident to local law enforcement.
“Today, an on-campus Edward Waters University (EWU) security officer engaged an unidentified male in the vicinity of Centennial Library on campus,” the university wrote in a statement. “The individual refused to identify themselves and was asked to leave. The individual returned to their car and left campus without incident.”
“It was later determined that the individual would be involved in a shooting near EWU Campus,” the university stated.
About 10 minutes after Palmeter left campus, Waters said the gunman began shooting outside the Dollar General store, where he shot and killed the first victim in the parking lot.
The shooting occurred on the heels of the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington
The racially motivated shooting came on the heels of the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his seminal “I Have a Dream” speech.
The march was commemorated Saturday, when the Drum Major Institute, the NAACP, the National Action Network (NAN) and more than 100 national organizations marched through the nation’s capital to honor the calls to action of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Martin Luther King III, chairman of the Drum Major Institute, called for more action on hate-related crimes in the wake of the Jacksonville shooting.
“In 2023, we are seeing an emergence of things. And it’s so tragic. We have got to, as a society, find a way to navigate through issues. You don’t have to like me, but we have to understand how to deal civilly with issues,” he told CNN’s Dana Bash.
“And we have got to do something to change that. And we have not — not tomorrow. We have got to do something now,” he said. “I know there’s hate crime legislation. But it’s unconscionable. It’s unacceptable. It’s inhumane. And it’s not American.”
Arndrea Waters King, the daughter-in-law of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., drew comparisons between the Jacksonville shooting and the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church that killed four Black girls weeks after the first March on Washington.
“One of the things as well that I would like to piggyback on with Martin in talking about the march yesterday was the — and then what happened in Jacksonville, it really was not surprising, but it certainly was heart-wrenching,” she said.
“And one of the things I immediately thought about was the parallels between 1963 and literally three weeks after the original March on Washington, the bombing and the killing of four black girls,” she added.
DOJ, FBI to investigate incident as a hate crime
The Justice Department announced Sunday that it will be investigating the shooting as a hate crime and an act of “racially-motivated violent extremism.”
“The Justice Department is investigating this attack as a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “The entire Justice Department extends its deepest condolences to the loved ones of the victims and to the Jacksonville community as they mourn an unimaginable loss.”
The Jacksonville FBI office also said it will be investigating the shooting as a hate crime.
“The FBI Jacksonville Field Office is coordinating with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida on the tragic shooting in Jacksonville, Florida,” the office said in a statement. “The FBI has opened a federal civil rights investigation and we will pursue this incident as a hate crime. The FBI will bring every resource to bear in this investigation.”
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