A racially motivated shooting at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday (August 26) left three Black people dead, authorities said.
According to CNN, a white gunman, identified as 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter, used a swastika-emblazoned assault rifle in the targeted attack against Black people, killing 52-year-old Angela Michelle Carr, 19-year-old Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr., and Jerrald Gallion, 29, before taking his own life.
The shooter, who left behind racist writings with racial slurs, left his parent's home in Clay County at roughly 11:39 a.m. on Saturday to head to Jacksonville. Before arriving at the Dollar General store, the gunman stopped at Edward Waters University in New Town, a predominately Black area of Jacksonville.
A student immediately notified campus security of a man who "looked out of place," President and CEO of Edward Waters University Dr. A. Zachary Faison Jr. told CNN. After an exchange with a security officer, the man got in his vehicle and drove away.
“It’s not by happenstance, we believe, that he came to the first historically Black university in this state, first,” Faison said.
At 1:08 p.m., the shooter made his way to the Dollar General and opened fire at a vehicle in the parking lot, killing Carr, according to Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters. The man later entered the store and fatally shot Laguerre.
As customers fled out the back, the gunman shot a third victim, Gallion, after he walked into the store with his girlfriend. The shooter chased after another person whom he shot at but didn't hit, the sheriff said.
Officers responded to 911 calls at 1:19 p.m. As they entered the store, officers heard a gunshot, which is believed to be when the gunman shot and killed himself.
Authorities believe the shooter didn't know the victims and acted alone.
“He targeted a certain group of people and that’s Black people,” Waters said in a statement. "That’s what he said he wanted to kill. And that’s very clear… Any member of that race at that time was in danger.” Waters noted that the shooter left behind writings detailing his “disgusting ideology of hate."
The gunman had no criminal arrest history and appeared to have legally purchased the firearm he used in the attack.
On Sunday (August 27), 200 people gathered for a vigil just a block from the Jacksonville Dollar General store to mourn the loss of the three victims. Governor Ron DeSantis was booed as he addressed the vigil.
A family member of Gallion who attended the vigil said he was a fun, loving young man.
Dollar General identified Laguerre as one of its employees.
“The DG family mourns the loss of our colleague Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre, Jr., who, along with two of our customers, were the victims of senseless violence yesterday. We extend our deepest sympathies to their families and friends as we all try to comprehend this tragedy. There is no place for hate at Dollar General or in the communities we serve,” the company said in a statement.