What to Know About the Racists Killings of 3 Black People in Jacksonville

Photo: Ryan Christopher Palmeter, the man suspected of shooting and killing three Black people in Jacksonville on Saturday (August 26) (Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office).

On Saturday, a 21-year-old White man killed three Black people in a racially-motivated shooting spree in Jacksonville. Here’s what we know about this horrific event. 

Ryan Christopher Palmeter reportedly entered the grounds of a Dollar General store in the predominantly Black Jacksonville neighborhood called New Town. He shot and killed 52-year-old Angela Michelle Carr, 19-year-old Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre, Jr. and 29-year-old Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion.

Duval County Sheriff T.K. Waters said Palmeter was caught on video shooting Carr in her vehicle just outside the discount store. He then entered Dollar General and shot and killed Laguerre, Jr. and Gallion. 

Palmeter then turned the gun on himself, dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

To carry out his attack, Palmeter wore a tactical vest and carried a handgun and an “AR-15-style” semiautomatic rifle with swastikas on it, said police. 

Sheriff Waters said the shooting was indeed racially motivated, citing that Palmeter left behind manifestos that detailed his hatred for Black people. He left them for his parents, law enforcement and the media. 

More About the Shooter

Palmeter lived with his parents in neighboring Clay County, southwest of Jacksonville. 

According to the Associated Press, he did not have a criminal record. Still, he was involved in a domestic violence incident in 2016 that did not result in an arrest and was involuntarily committed for a 72-hour mental health examination the following year. Yet, Palmeter could still legally obtain a Glock handgun and the semiautomatic rifle he used in the Dollar General shooting.  

Palmeter texted his father during the attack, asking him to break into his room and check his computer. The father found the racist writings, a suicide note and a will. 

The Location of the Attack

Similar to the racist mass shooting in Buffalo that claimed the lives of 10 people in 2022, the suspect appeared to have carefully selected his location, a predominantly Black neighborhood, to carry out his attack. The shooting occurred at a Dollar General in New Town, near the historically black college Edward Waters University. 

Palmeter was spotted attempting to enter Edward Waters before a campus security guard asked him to leave for refusing to identify himself. The college later confirmed that no students or staff were involved in the shooting.

What’s Next

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said that the Justice Department is investigating Palmeter’s attack as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.

What National Leaders are Saying About It

President Joe Biden: 

On Saturday, our nation marked the 60th Anniversary of the March on Washington — a seminal moment in our history and in our work towards equal opportunity for all Americans. But this day of remembrance and commemoration ended with yet another American community wounded by an act of gun violence, reportedly fueled by hate-filled animus and carried out with two firearms.

Yesterday in Jacksonville, Florida a white gunman went on a shooting rampage at a store near a Historically Black University and killed three Black individuals. While we still need to learn more about the motivation for Saturday’s shooting, law enforcement has opened a federal civil rights investigation and is treating this incident as a possible hate crime and act of domestic violent extremism.

Even as we continue searching for answers, we must say clearly and forcefully that white supremacy has no place in America. We must refuse to live in a country where Black families going to the store or Black students going to school live in fear of being gunned down because of the color of their skin. Hate must have no safe harbor. Silence is complicity and we must not remain silent.

Jill and I are praying for the victims and their families, and we grieve with the people of Jacksonville.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland:

“Yesterday in Jacksonville, Florida, three people were killed in a horrific act of hate. In the wake of the mass shooting, FBI and ATF agents responded to the scene and are continuing to work closely with local law enforcement on the ground. The Justice Department is investigating this attack as a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism. 

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.

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.”

Statement issued by Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King, III, Arndrea Waters King, and Jonathan Greenblatt:

“While thousands of people from all walks of life — Black, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, White, Latino, Sikh, Hindu, LGBTQ+, young and old — marched today in our nation’s capital for the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, a white man in Jacksonville, Florida, motivated by a sheer desire to kill Black people, opened fire at a dollar store, killing three people, all Black. 

The assailant, who is now deceased, was seen earlier in the day at Edward Waters University, an historically Black college, where witnesses claim he was seen donning a ballistic vest and mask before going to the dollar store. According to authorities, the shooter left behind a racist manifesto expressing his hateful ideology and intention to target and kill Black people. Additionally, officials shared images of the weapons used in the attack, revealing that the gunman’s rifle was adorned with bigoted rhetoric and hateful symbols, including swastikas.

This hate is abhorrent, detestable, beyond humanity, and must be condemned by all. We all need to come together in solidarity in standing up to the evils of white supremacy and intolerance of all forms. Such bigotry should have no place in our society. And it is a reminder that the hate-fueled violence that Dr. King called out sixty years ago and that we condemned today from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, aren’t antiquated concerns, but remain a clear and present danger that threatens us all.

As we continue to march for justice and equality, we also mourn the lives [of] those lost today and send our hearts and prayers to the victims and their families.”

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