New Journal and Guide Staff
Within hours after the deadly shooting of three Black people in Jacksonville, authorities announced the case would be treated as a hate crime.
On Saturday August 26, Ryan Christopher Palmeter, a 21-year-old white supremacist, went on a shooting spree at a Dollar General store, targeting African Americans in a historically Black community. When the rampage was over 11 minutes later, Palmeter had killed Angela Michelle Carr, 52, Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, 29, and Amto Joseph Laguerre, Jr., 19, before killing himself.
Carr, an Uber driver, was still in her car parked outside the store after reportedly dropping off a friend when she was killed; 19-year-old Daguerre, worked at the store and was attempting to flee; Gallion was shot as he entered the store with his girlfriend who was able to escape the gunfire.
In the moments after the crime and before Jacksonville Police Sheriff T. K. Waters held the first official press conference to announce details known at that time, news reporters speculated about the gunman, his motive, and whether or not he had acted alone.
Interviews with the city’s mayor and City Councilwoman Ju’ Coby Pittman, both at the scene, were shown repeatedly as reporters awaited the press conference.
Pittman spoke for the crowd of Black residents waiting to learn names of the victims, whose number was unknown at the time, as she decried that Black people are no longer safe walking down the sidewalk or going into stores.
News arrived early that the crime was racially motivated as police entered the store and retrieved the weapons used by the deceased Palmeter. He had painted swastikas on his Glock pistol and on his AR-15 rifle. Later it was learned he had left several hate-filled manifestos, leaving no doubt he hated Black people whom he referred to repeatedly as “niggers.”
Before he set out to the Dollar General, he was spotted as suspicious by students at Edward Waters University, a small historically Black Christian university. They alerted a security guard, Lt. Antonio Bailey who turned Palmeter away from the campus after he refused to identify himself. Later it was learned the gunman donned his protective bulletproof vest under his shirt while in the parking lot of the university.
Palmeter’s background checks have provided no evidence of any prior criminal activity and the weapons were purchased legally earlier this year in April and June. He reportedly had worked at a Dollar Tree (not Dollar General) at some point, and he is reported to have scoped out another Dollar General site on Saturday before deciding on the one where he brandished his weapons and killed the three people.
Palmeter’s racially-slurred manifestos which he left behind espoused deep hate-filled beliefs against Blacks.
“This shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people,” Sheriff Waters said at the first news conference after the shooting.
The Jacksonville, Florida, mass shooting appears to have taken a page from the playbook followed by Payton Gendron, the white supremacist, who murdered 10 mostly Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.
Gendron, who is now serving life in prison without parole for the crime, drove three hours from his home to the Black community to deliberately kill shoppers and workers at Tops Friendly Markets on May 14, 2022.
At the time of the Jacksonville tragedy, civil rights leaders and marchers of all races and backgrounds from across the nation were in Washington, D.C., peacefully commemorating the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.