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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Dollar General shooting victims identified after racially-motivated attack in Jacksonville

Authorities on Sunday identified the three victims shot and killed a day earlier in Jacksonville, Florida, in attack that is being investigated as a hate crime.

The victims were identified as Angela Carr, 52, Anolt Laguerre, Jr., 19 and Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, 29.

Laguerre was an employee at Dollar General, the company said Sunday in a statement. Jacksonville Sheriff TK Waters confirmed this at a news conference Monday, adding that it appeared the shooter acted alone.

Waters on Sunday identified the shooter as 21-year-old Ryan Palmeter, a White man who authorities say took his life. Waters said that the gunman fired 11 rounds into a car, killing Carr. He then entered Dollar General and shot and killed Laguerre, before exiting and returning to kill Gallion.

The gunman was wearing a tactical vest and mask and was armed with a Glock and an AR-15-style rifle that had swastikas on it, Waters said.

Waters said the gunman initially went to Edward Waters University, a historically Black college in Jacksonville. He was seen in a TikTok video putting on a bullet-proof vest at the campus, Waters said. The gunman left EWU after about nine minutes. The school previously said in a statement he left after refusing to identify himself to security, and a security officer then flagged the gunman as a “suspicious person” to a nearby police officer shortly after he had left, Waters said.

At the Dollar General, the gunman let several people out of the store while carrying out the shooting. At one point, he chased a witness and shot at her, but missed, Waters said

Officers then entered the building — 11 minutes after the incident began — and heard a single gunshot, which they believed was when the gunman killed himself, according to Waters.

The gunman, who lived with his parents in Orange Park in Clay County, Florida, had no criminal record, but there is record of a domestic violence call involving his brother and he was once involuntarily committed to a mental hospital for examination, Waters said.

During the shooting, the gunman texted his father, telling him to use a screwdriver to get into the gunman’s room where he had left behind notes, Waters said.

Waters said the gunman purchased his both firearms legally and there were no flags that would have come up to stop him from purchasing them.

Waters called the gunman a “madman” and said there was no logic to his violent actions.

“I urge us all not to look for sense in a senseless act of violence,” Waters said. “There’s no reason or explanation that will ever account for the shooter’s decisions and actions.”

“His sickening ideology is not representative of the values of this Jacksonville community that we all love so much,” he added. “We are not a community of hate. We stand united with the good and decent people of this city. We reject this inexcusable violence, and this agency will not rest until this investigation is complete and every available avenue of accountability have been exhausted.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Sunday called the shooting “an act of racially-motivated violent extremism” and said it was being investigated as a hate crime.

President Biden on Sunday noted that the shooting occurred as thousands converged in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the March on Washington.

“Even as we continue searching for answers, we must say clearly and forcefully that white supremacy has no place in America,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “We must refuse to live in a country where Black families going to the store or Black students going to school live in fear of being gunned down because of the color of their skin. Hate must have no safe harbor. Silence is complicity and we must not remain silent.”

Vice President Kamala Harris said on social media, “I am heartbroken by yesterday’s shooting in Jacksonville. This act was reportedly driven by racism and hatred, carried out with a weapon of war that should never have been on the streets. These tragedies must stop. We must renew the ban on assault weapons. It is long overdue.”

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