JACKSONVILLE. Fla. (TCD) — A gunman opened fire in a Dollar General over the weekend, killing three people and himself in what law enforcement officials said was “racially motivated” crime.
According to Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters, on Saturday, Aug. 26, at 12:48 p.m., the suspect pulled into the parking lot at Edward Waters University in a Honda Element and put on a bulletproof vest. Edward Waters University is a historically Black college and was the first of its kind established in Florida. Minutes later, a school security officer pulled into the same parking lot and followed him as the suspect drove away.
The security guard contacted the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to report a “suspicious man on campus” and started drafting a BOLO (be on the lookout) for the suspect’s car. While doing that, the shooting started at Dollar General. The man was armed with a Glock handgun and an AR-15-style rifle. WJXT-TV reports one of the firearms had swastikas drawn on it.
At 1:08 p.m., an 11-round ShotSpotter alert went out when the shooter fired rounds into a black Kia in the parking lot, killing 52-year-old Angela Carr. He walked into the store and fatally shot 19-year-old A.J. Laguerre as he tried to run to safety. Other people inside exited out a back door to safety.
The suspect, who the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office identified as 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter, aimed at security cameras but missed.
At 1:10 p.m., Gerrald Gallion and his girlfriend walked into Dollar General, and Palmeter shot him three minutes later. His girlfriend managed to escape.
The suspect fired rounds out the back door where other customers went, but Waters said no one else was struck by gunfire.
At 1:14 p.m., the suspect walked into an office and texted his father saying, “Use a screwdriver to get into my room.” The father walked in and found the suspect’s last will and testament as well as a suicide note typed out on his computer.
Deputies arrived minutes after the ShotSpotter alert went out, and as they walked into Dollar General, they heard a single gunshot. Waters said he believes that is when Palmeter shot himself. SWAT officers confirmed at 3:44 p.m. the suspect was deceased.
Waters said he purchased all the firearms legally. In an earlier news conference, Waters said all three victims are Black.
Palmeter reportedly wrote three manifestos: one to his parents, one to the media, and one to federal agents. Waters said the writings “detail the shooter’s disgusting ideology of hate.”
He added, “Plainly put, this shooting was racially motivated. He wanted to kill” Black people.
Waters said he was not part of a larger white supremacist group and that he acted alone.
Waters described the manifestos as the “diary of a madman.”
He lived with his parents in Clay County, and Waters said his parents “did not want him in their house.”
He was detained on a Baker Act in 2017, which is a 72-hour hold for mental health purposes. One point of eligibility to be held on a Baker Act is it there “is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment, the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself, himself or others in the near future as evidenced by recent behavior.”
The mass shooting in Jacksonville occurred the same day as the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington commemorating Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech.
Waters said, “We stand united against all forms of hate.”