26 May 2024

A racially motivated attack left three Black individuals dead at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida, on a weekend that witnessed several other shootings across public spaces in America. The Jacksonville Sheriff, T.K. Waters, confirmed at a news conference that the assailant, a white male in his twenties, targeted Black people specifically, and later took his own life after the attack.

The shooter, a resident of Clay County, Florida, had left behind three manifestos that detailed his hate-filled ideology and motive for the attack. The victims included two men and one woman, all of whom were Black. The incident began just after 1 p.m. ET, close to Edward Waters University, a historically Black institution. Although the gunman was seen on the university campus before proceeding to the Dollar General store, no injuries were reported on the campus.

The attack was carried out with an AR-15 style rifle and a handgun, both of which had swastikas painted on them. The FBI’s Jacksonville office has opened a federal civil rights investigation and will treat the incident as a hate crime.

The assailant had previously been evaluated under the Baker Act in 2017, which allows for involuntary detention and examination during a mental health crisis. However, authorities said it did not appear that the shooter knew the victims personally.

Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan revealed that the shooter’s writings indicated he was aware of a mass shooting at a Jacksonville gaming event exactly five years earlier and might have chosen the attack date to coincide with that anniversary.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida State Senator Tracie Davis both expressed their condolences and condemned the attack, with DeSantis calling the shooter a “scumbag” and Davis describing it as a “tragic day” for Jacksonville.