A tragic incident unfolded on Saturday when a gunman opened fire inside a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida, resulting in the deaths of three Black individuals. The assailant, identified as a white male in his early 20s, carried out the attack with an assault rifle adorned with swastikas, leading authorities to classify it as a racially motivated crime.
The victims, two African-American men and a woman, tragically lost their lives before the shooter turned the gun on himself, ending his own life. Prior to the attack, the assailant had been spotted lurking around the campus of a nearby historically black college. Law enforcement officials revealed that the shooter had expressed his hatred towards Black people in a series of written manifestos.
During a press conference, Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters stated, “This shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people. He wanted to kill n——.” The assailant, described as a “maniac,” stormed the store wearing a tactical vest and armed with a Glock handgun and an AR-15 style rifle, which had swastikas painted on it.
Authorities have found no evidence linking the shooter to any larger extremist group, emphasizing that he acted alone, driven by his own twisted motivations. Sheriff Waters clarified, “This was, quite frankly, a maniac who decided he wanted to take lives. He targeted a certain group of people, and that’s Black people, that’s what he said he wanted to kill. And that’s very clear. Anyone from that racial background was in danger.”
The shooter had previously been involuntarily institutionalized in 2017 under Florida’s “Baker Act.” In the year prior, he was involved in a domestic incident, but no arrests were made. While authorities have released limited information about his identity, they have confirmed that he resided in neighboring Clay County with his parents. Police are currently searching his residence for further evidence.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, after speaking with Sheriff Waters, condemned the shooter’s racist motivations, calling him a “scumbag.” DeSantis stated, “He was targeting people based on their race. That is totally unacceptable. This guy killed himself rather than face the consequences and take responsibility for his actions. He took the coward’s way out. We strongly condemn what happened.”
Before the shooting, a man believed to be the gunman was seen on the nearby campus of Edward Waters University, which is a small historically Black university.
A campus security guard asked the man to identify himself after he was seen near the school’s library.
When he refused, the man was asked to leave and eventually walked to his car, the university said in a statement.
He was later seen putting on a ballistics vest and mask.
Campus security was called and unsuccessfully attempted to catch the man.
The suspect’s parents are said to have called police after finding a manifesto in which it’s reported he spewed vile hatred against black people.
The FBI has initiated a federal investigation into the attack, treating it as a hate crime. Mayor Donna Deegan, who was present at the scene, expressed her deep sorrow, saying, “My heart is heavy. I am tired of all the shootings.” Dollar General also expressed their condolences and pledged support to their affected employees and the community.
As investigations continue, the Jacksonville community mourns the loss of three innocent lives and grapples with the devastating impact of this racially motivated act of violence.