Three people were killed Saturday in a racially motivated attack after a gunman targeted Black people at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida, in one of several weekend shootings that again shocked Americans in public places – from stores to football games to parades.
“This shooting was racially motivated and he hated Black people,” Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said at a news conference early Saturday evening.
Waters said the shooter, who he described as a White man in his 20s, shot and killed himself after the attack. The suspect left behind what the sheriff described as three manifestos outlining his “disgusting ideology of hate” and his motive in the attack.
All three victims, two men and one woman, were Black.
Waters said the shooter lived in Clay County, Florida, south of Jacksonville, with his parents. Jacksonville is located in northeast Florida, about 35 miles south of the Georgia border.
Waters said the shooter told his father by text to “check his computer.” The father found documents described by Waters as manifestos and called authorities.
But Waters said by the time authorities were alerted about the manifestos, the gunman had already started the attack in the Dollar General.
The shooting started shortly after 1 p.m. ET, blocks away from Edward Waters University, a historically Black school where students living on campus were told to stay in their residence halls. Waters said the gunman was seen on the school’s campus before heading to the Dollar General. No one was injured on the campus.
“He took that opportunity to put his bulletproof vest on outside and to put his mask on outside and then proceed to the store where he committed this horrible act,” Waters told CNN’s Jim Acosta.
Edward Waters University officials said the shooter was turned away from its campus after refusing to identify himself.
“The individual returned to their car and left campus without incident. The encounter was reported to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office by EWU security,” according to a university news release.
Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan said the gunman barricaded himself inside the store after the attack. It was not immediately clear if victims were shot inside or outside the store.
The sheriff said investigators believe the gunman acted alone and wore both a tactical vest and mask during the attack. He was armed with an AR-15 style rifle and a handgun.
To recap, a white supremacist armed with weapons and protecting himself with a tactical vest and mask went to a private Christian historically Black university with the intent of killing Black people. When the security staff turned him away, he went to a Dollar General in Jacksonville and killed three Black people and then himself.
Maybe he would have killed dozens or more. In America, being Black means that sometimes, we take comfort in the fact that fewer of us are killed by fate, mourning three instead of three dozen.
Sixty years ago this weekend Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous Dream speech on Washington DC. Several states will barely teach current students about that fact, and they definitely won't cover King's other speeches where he dismantled the notion that his dream was possible without real work from white moderates, and that they needed to get started on that. Sixty years later, not much has changed.
But Black Lives Still Matter.