The gunman responsible for the deaths of three individuals at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville specifically targeted Black individuals, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office said Saturday. The incident occurred within a predominantly Black neighborhood.
The assailant, a masked white man armed with a firearm featuring a swastika, carried out the attack with a clear and apparent motive rooted in racial hatred, according to officials.
The shooting took place in a Dollar General store situated in a community primarily comprised of Black residents. The violent incident resulted in the death of two men and one woman. Sheriff T.K. Waters asserted that the attack was unmistakably driven by racial animosity.
The gunman, who ended his own life at the scene, made racially prejudiced statements prior to the attack, contributing to the overall understanding of his motives.
“He hated Black people,” the sheriff said.
Notably, this incident coincided with a significant event in Washington, D.C., where thousands gathered to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, featuring Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech.
The shooter, a man in his twenties, was equipped with a bullet-resistant vest and wielded both a Glock handgun and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. He acted alone, with no indication of group involvement, as confirmed by Sheriff Waters.
Evidently, the shooter sent written communications to federal law enforcement and at least one media outlet just prior to the attack, suggesting a connection to the fifth anniversary of a prior shooting incident in Jacksonville. This earlier event involved a shooter who also took his own life.
“Portions of these manifestos detail the shooter's disgusting ideology of hate. This shooting was racially motivated and he hated black people.” pic.twitter.com/OICdJ3n7xb
— Acyn (@Acyn) August 26, 2023
The tragic incident took place shortly before 2 p.m. in close proximity to Edward Waters University, a historically Black institution. The university noted that the shooter was spotted near their library area, where he was asked for identification by a security officer. Following his refusal, he left the premises and later returned wearing a bullet-resistant vest and a mask. While his intentions at the university remain unclear, his presence raises questions.
In the lead-up to the attack, the shooter communicated with his father via text, directing him to review his computer writings. The family promptly contacted 911, though the shooting had already begun, Waters said.
Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan expressed her sorrow over the incident, saying that hate has no place within the community.