A white gunman shot and killed three Black people at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday, in an act that officials say was “racially motivated.”
The shooter, who has not been publicly identified, texted his father to “check his computer” before the shooting which took place before 2 p.m., revealing dark manifestos detailing the suspect’s racism, according to authorities. The shooter’s father called police and sent the writings to authorities, but the gunman had already fatally shot three victims before killing himself.
“He hated Black people,” said Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters during a press conference Saturday.
The tragedy is the latest among a slew of high-profile racially motivated shootings over the years, in cities ranging from Buffalo, New York in 2022—where 10 people died and another 3 were injured—to Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, where a gunman opened fire in the basement of a church.
“This is a dark day in Jacksonville’s history. There is no place for hate in this community,” Waters said. “I am sickened by this cowardly shooter’s personal ideology.”
The FBI will help the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office with the ongoing investigation and said they will investigate the shooting as a hate crime.
Here’s what to know.
Shortly before 2 p.m. on Saturday, a masked gunman wearing a tactical vest and carrying an AR-15 style rifle and a handgun opened fire outside of a Dollar General in Jacksonville and then entered into the store and continued shooting, leaving three people dead before killing himself.
Before the shooting, officials say the gunman was at a nearby historically Black university, Edward Waters University. A security guard spotted the shooter and asked him to identify himself, but he refused and then was asked to leave, according to a statement from the school. He then donned his tactical gear and mask, walked to his car and left the campus, according to authorities.
It’s unclear if the gunman’s original intent was to carry out an attack at the school. “I can’t tell you what his mindset was while he was there, but he did go there,” Waters said. Students were on lockdown for hours after the shooting.
Penny Jones, a previous Dollar General employee, told the Associated Press that she is feeling scared. “I’m just waiting to hear about my co-workers that I used to work with,” Jones said to the AP. “I don’t know if it’s safe to move about the neighborhood.”
Swastikas were painted in white on one of the guns the suspect was carrying, and officials say he barricaded himself after the shooting. Waters also said that evidence in the gunman’s manifesto has led investigators to believe that the date of the shooting is tied to a separate Jacksonville, Fla. shooting, that occurred exactly five years ago. The gunman in that circumstance opened fire at a video game tournament in Jacksonville before killing himself.
“This is a community that has suffered again and again. So many times this is where we end up,” Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan said during a press conference. “This is something that should not and must not continue to happen in our community.”
The shooting also occurred the day after the anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday, when the Ku Klux Klan attacked Black protestors that were conducting a sit-in with baseball bats and ax handles in 1960.
Who are the victims?
Authorities have not yet revealed the names of the victims. However, they have confirmed that the three victims—two men and one woman—were Black.