A White man, identified as 21-year-old Ryan Palmeter, went on a shooting spree in Jacksonville, FL, targeting African Americans in a historically Black community and killing three people. The victims were identified as Angela Michelle Carr, 52; Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr., 19; and Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, 29.
The racist shooting spree inside a Dollar General Store on Saturday, Aug. 26, was reminiscent of the Buffalo Tops Supermarket Shooting in May 2022, where a racist White man murdered 10 Black shoppers and injured three others.
Authorities said that before the incident, the suspect had encountered resistance at Edward Waters University, a historically Black institution blocks from the crime scene. The school reported that the individual, who had been denied entry to the campus, subsequently left without incident. Despite the encounter’s peaceful resolution, the shooter’s intentions soon turned deadly.
Following his expulsion from the university premises, the suspect armed himself with a bulletproof vest and mask before proceeding to the nearby Dollar General store. With an AR-15-style rifle and handgun, he unleashed a barrage of gunfire, first outside the store and then inside, before taking his own life.
Law enforcement officials declared the attack racially motivated, as evidence emerged indicating the shooter’s disturbing ideology of hate. He left behind written messages that espoused his abhorrent beliefs and utilized racial slurs, revealing a profoundly ingrained hatred against Black individuals. While investigators said they are still trying to comprehend the shooter’s motives and past interactions with law enforcement, it remains evident that this attack was targeted at Black people. “This shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people,” Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said during a hastily called news conference after the shooting.
The tragedy reverberated beyond Jacksonville’s city limits, capturing the attention of both local and federal authorities on the same day that civil rights leaders commemorated the 60th anniversary of the iconic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
The FBI initiated a federal civil rights investigation into the incident, classifying it as a hate crime. Sherri Onks, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville office, emphasized to reporters the agency’s continued commitment to addressing and preventing racially motivated violence.
The shooting adds to what has been another tragic year of mass shootings. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been at least 472 mass shootings in the country in 2023. Many have said this has further highlighted the urgent need for comprehensive gun control measures.
The pervasive presence of gun violence in everyday settings underscores the necessity of addressing this issue nationally. “This is a dark day in Jacksonville’s history,” Waters remarked. “Any loss of life is tragic, but the hate that motivated the shooter’s killing spree adds an additional layer to the heartbreak.”
Stacy M. Brown is the NNPA Newswire senior national correspondent.