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What to Know About the Jacksonville Shooting

A white gunman shot and killed three Black people in a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday afternoon. He then shot and killed himself.

The police said the shooting was a racially motivated hate crime. Here is what is known so far about the killings.

Around 11:40 a.m. on Saturday, the gunman left his parents’ house in Clay County, Fla., and headed toward Jacksonville in the next county, according to the authorities. Law enforcement officials identified the gunman as Ryan Christopher Palmeter, 21. He was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and a Glock handgun, they said, adding that the guns were purchased legally in Florida.

The suspect’s father got a text from his son at 1:18 p.m., telling him to check his computer.

The assailant had written several manifestoes, the Jacksonville sheriff, T.K. Waters, said — one to his parents, one to the news media and one to federal agents. Parts of these manifestoes detailed the shooter’s “disgusting ideology of hate,” Sheriff Waters said.

At 1:53 p.m. his parents called the Clay County Sheriff’s Office. By then, the shooting in Jacksonville had begun.

The gunman entered the store wearing a tactical vest and armed with a handgun as well as an AR-15-style rifle that bore swastika markings, according to officials.

According to Florida State Representative Angie Nixon, before the shooting began, the gunman told “all the non-Black people to get out” of the store.

He fatally shot three people before turning a gun on himself. The authorities are investigating the shooting as a hate crime.

According to what appears to be the X account of Mr. Palmeter, he attended OakLeaf High School in Orange Park, and in November 2019, he posted a photo of an acceptance letter from Flagler College, with the caption “Looking forward to a bright career in Business Administration! #FlaglerMakes.”

As of Sunday morning, family members of Mr. Palmeter could not be reached for comment.

“This shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people,” Sheriff Waters said. Officials added that the gunman was involved in an unspecified domestic call in 2016 and that he underwent a mental illness examination by the authorities in 2017. It was not known what the results of that examination were. Photographs taken by the police of the shooter’s weapons showed drawings of swastikas on at least one of them. Sheriff Waters said that the weapons did not belong to the shooter’s parents.

Two men and one woman were killed in the shooting. All three were Black. No one else was injured. It is not known how many people were in the store at the time.

Sherri Onks, the F.B.I. special agent in charge in Jacksonville, said at the news conference that the bureau had opened a federal civil rights investigation.

The low-price Dollar General franchise, founded in 1939, has more than 19,000 stores across 47 states. It calls itself “America’s neighborhood general store.”

In response to Saturday’s shooting, the company said in a statement that it was “heartbroken by the senseless act of violence” and that it was working closely with law enforcement.

Before heading to the Dollar General, the shooter was seen on the campus of Edward Waters University, a historically Black institution nearby, the sheriff said.

In a statement released by Edward Waters University, the school said that an unidentified male was on campus on Saturday, and that the person had refused to identify himself to an on-campus security officer and was asked to leave.

“The individual returned to their car and left campus without incident,” the statement reads, adding that the encounter was reported to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

The school states that it was “later determined that the individual would be involved in a shooting near EWU Campus.”

Jacksonville, in the northeast corner of Florida, has a population of 971,000. Almost a third of its residents are Black.

Saturday’s shooting comes on the five-year anniversary of a shooting at a video game tournament in Jacksonville that left three dead, including the gunman. Donna Deegan, the mayor of Jacksonville, said that the manifestoes left by the gunman indicated that he was aware of the anniversary.

On Saturday, people gathered to pray in circles outside the Dollar General store.

“That does not represent who we are as a city and who we are as a people,” Sheriff Waters said at the news conference.

Last year in May, a shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo that targeted Black people left 10 dead. The gunman, a white teenager, had been enamored by white supremacist ideology.

In 2019, an attack at a Walmart in El Paso killed 22. The gunman in that shooting told the police he wanted to kill Mexicans.

Among mass shootings in the United States, 9.3 percent of them have historically been motivated by racism, according to the Violence Project database.

Orlando Mayorquin, Nichole Manna and Chris Cameron contributed reporting.



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