Three people have tragically died after being shot in a “racially-motivated” attack by a 21-year-old white male in a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida, local officials have said.
The suspect opened fire on Saturday afternoon just before 2 p.m., killing two black men and one black woman. He eventually opened fire on himself, taking his own life.
Officials said that the suspect was known to authorities and had been living with his parents at their home in Clay County.
Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook had called the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at 11:39 a.m. before the shooting to tell Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters that the suspect was leaving home and was headed for Jacksonville by car.
Shortly before the shooting, the suspect was seen by security guards at Edward Waters University, a small historically black university, with a Glock handgun putting on a bullet-proof vest and mask, Sheriff Waters said at a press conference on Saturday.
At 1:53 p.m., the suspect’s parents called the Clay County sheriff’s office after the father received a text message from the suspect at 1:18 p.m. to check his computer. The father told the sheriff’s office they had found a manifesto in their home, which prompted an all-out police and SWAT response.
But it was too late. By the time they arrived, the 21-year-old had already started shooting at the store about three-quarters of a mile from the school campus.
The suspect had left behind three manifestos: one to his parents, one to federal law enforcement, and one to the media. The Epoch Times has not viewed the manifesto.
In a press conference, Sheriff Waters said it was clear from the manifestos that the shooter had been “racially-motivated” in his actions.
“Portions of these manifestos detail the shooter’s disgusting ideology of hate,” the Jacksonville sheriff said. “He hated black people … He wanted to kill [expletive].”
“I want to be very clear that there is absolutely no evidence that the shooter is part of any large group,” he emphasized. “We know that he acted completely alone.”
“This is a dark day in Jacksonville’s history. There is no place for hate in this community," he added. “I am sickened by this cowardly shooter's personal ideology.”
The sheriff said that an investigation has been launched and the shooter's home was being searched.
Manifesto Notes Prior Shooting on Same DayJacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan also told the press conference that the shooter had noted in his manifesto a shooting at a video game tournament in 2018, which officials say may have influenced or inspired his attack plans.
That shooting was carried out on the same day—Aug. 26—around the same time—at 1:34 p.m.—five years ago.
FBI Investigating Hate CrimeFBI special agent in charge of the agency’s local office, Sherri Onks, said the FBI was opening a federal civil rights investigation to investigate the attack as a hate crime.
“Hate crimes are always and will always remain a top priority for the FBI because they are not only an attack on a victim, they’re also meant to threaten and intimidate an entire community,” she said.
Sheriff Waters added at the press conference that in addition to the Glock handgun, the suspect had been armed with an AR-15 that had Nazi (National Socialist German Workers' Party) swastikas painted on it.
Ms. Deegan said she was heartbroken.
“This is a community that has suffered again and again. So many times this is where we end up. And there were so many people out today obviously grieving, upset. It's just something that should not and must not continue to happen in our community. It's too often the same folks and this type of hate, you know; this type of, you see the swastikas on the gun. We must do everything that we can, we must do everything that we can to dissuade this type of hate."
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis responded to news of the shooting, saying that “the scumbag that did this was racially motivated.”
“This guy killed himself rather than face the music and accept responsibility for his actions,” he said. “And so he took the coward’s way out. But we condemn what happened in the strongest possible terms.”