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Jacksonville Dollar General Shooting: What We Know

Jun 15, 2023


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Three people, all Black, were fatally shot in a dollar store before the gunman, a white man, killed himself. Investigators are treating the killing as a hate crime.

By Livia Albeck-Ripka, Anna Betts, Orlando Mayorquin, Nichole Manna and Patricia Mazzei

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 Edward Waters University, where he put on a bulletproof vest and drove away minutes later.

The university’s security team notified the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to say that there was a “suspicious person on campus” whom they described as a white male, heavyset, wearing a bulletproof vest and blue latex gloves.

Authorities began to file a “be on the look out,” or BOLO report.

Shortly after 1 p.m., the gunman was seen entering the Dollar General parking lot, where he shot 11 rounds into a car, killing the first victim. He then entered the store armed with a handgun and an AR-15-style rifle that bore swastika markings, according to officials. Inside the store, the gunman shot and killed two people, one of whom was entering the store with his girlfriend, officials said. Sheriff Waters said the gunman did not shoot at one person inside the store who was also white.

The police said that shortly after officers entered the store they heard a single gunshot, which they believe was when the gunman killed himself.

The three victims, all of them Black, were identified on Sunday by Sheriff T.K. Waters of Jacksonville as Angela Michelle Carr, 52; Anolt Joseph Laguerre Jr., known as A.J., 29, who worked at the store; and Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, 19.

Ms. Carr, an Uber driver, had just dropped her friend at the Dollar General store, said her son, Chayvaughn Payne. “She would give her shirt off her back for people,” Mr. Payne, 30, said, describing Ms. Carr as someone who would invite people to cookouts and other family events.

Mr. Laguerre was an employee at the Dollar General, the store said in a statement. Family members of Mr. Laguerre and Mr. Gallion could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

No one else was injured, officials said.

On Sunday, law enforcement officials identified the gunman as Ryan Christopher Palmeter, 21.

He had no criminal record, though the authorities had held him for an involuntary, 72-hour psychiatric evaluation in 2017, when he was 15, the sheriff said. A year earlier, the police received a domestic violence call involving him and his brother.

The gunman legally bought the two weapons he used in the shooting — a Glock handgun and an AR-15-style rifle — in April and June, Sheriff Waters said.

Psychiatric evaluations under a Florida law known as the Baker Act do not show up in background checks unless the person has been committed for treatment.

On the gunman’s laptop, authorities found more than 20 pages of racist writings, Sheriff Waters said in an interview.

According to what appears to be Mr. Palmeter’s account on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, he attended OakLeaf High School in Orange Park, Fla. In November 2019, he posted a photo of an acceptance letter from Flagler College. A spokeswoman said on Sunday that he was not currently a student.

Jacksonville, in the northeast corner of Florida, has a population of 971,000. Almost a third of its residents are Black, and the city has a long history of racism. Sunday was the 63rd anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday, when white supremacists severely beat a group of mostly Black civil rights activists.

Last year, on the morning of Sept. 11, a neo-Nazi group unfurled swastika flags and antisemitic banners on an Interstate 95 overpass. And earlier in 2022, homeowners in two neighborhoods found fliers with hate speech littering their driveways.

Last October, an extremist group displayed antisemitic messages around Jacksonville, including at TIAA Bank Field ahead of a Florida-Georgia college football game. Other hateful messages appeared on an Interstate 10 overpass and along another highway.

On Sunday, about 150 people gathered for a vigil outside the Dollar General store. Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican running for president who has rolled back diversity and inclusion policies and revised Black history standards, appeared unannounced at the vigil.

The crowd booed loudly when he was introduced to speak, and a councilwoman had to step in and ask people to listen. After he spoke, the governor was booed again.

He said earlier on Sunday in Tallahassee that he had talked with Jacksonville officials and to the administration of Edward Waters to ensure the university had adequate security. “Perpetrating violence of this kind is unacceptable, and targeting people due to their race has no place in the state of Florida,” he said.

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.

In March, the F.B.I. released an analysis of hate crime incidents in 2021 — the last year data was fully available — which said that hate crimes overall had increased by more than 11 percent since 2020. According to the data, anti-Black hate crimes made up the largest “bias incident category,” with 31 percent of all single-bias incidents in 2021.

Emma Bubola, Jin Yu Young, Adam Goldman and Glenn Thrush contributed reporting.

Livia Albeck-Ripka is a reporter for The Times based in California. She was previously a reporter in the Australia bureau. More about Livia Albeck-Ripka

Anna Betts is a reporter for the National desk and a member of the 2023-2024 New York Times Fellowship class. More about Anna Betts

Orlando Mayorquin is a general assignment and breaking news reporter based in New York. More about Orlando Mayorquin

Patricia Mazzei is the Miami bureau chief, covering Florida and Puerto Rico. She writes about breaking news, politics, disasters and the quirks of life in South Florida. She joined The Times in 2017 after a decade at The Miami Herald. More about Patricia Mazzei