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Gunman who killed 3 at Florida store targeted Black people, police say

A masked white man opened fire Saturday inside a Jacksonville, Fla., Dollar General store in a predominantly black neighborhood in an attack the local sheriff called “racially motivated.” Then the shooter committed suicide.

“He hated black people,” Sheriff TK Waters said at a press conference. “There is absolutely no evidence that the shooter is part of any larger group.”

Waters said the shooter, who was in his 20s, used a Glock handgun and an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, at least one of which was painted with a swastika. He was wearing a bulletproof vest.

The two men and one woman who were killed were black, Waters said. Officials did not immediately release the names of the victims or the shooter.

The sheriff said the gunman left notes that led investigators to believe he carried out the shootings because it was another gunman’s fifth anniversary. opened fire during a video game tournament in Jacksonville, killing two people before fatally shooting himself.

The shooting happened just before 2 p.m., outside the USD General on Edward Waters University, a historically black small campus. Waters said the suspect was seen on campus just before the shooting wearing his vest and mask.

“I can’t tell you what his mindset was when he was there, but he went there,” the sheriff said.

Students at Edward Waters University were being held in their dorms, the school said in a statement. The school said no students or faculty were involved.

The shooter had driven there from neighboring Clay County. Shortly before the attack, the shooter sent a message to his father asking him to check his computer. The father found the notes and the family called 911, but the shooting had already started, the sheriff said.

“A Dark Day in Jacksonville History”

“This is a dark day in Jacksonville’s history. There is no place for hate in this community,” Waters said. “I’m sick of this cowardly shooter’s personal ideology.” He said the investigation will continue and that the shooter’s home is being searched.

Mayor Donna Deegan said she was “heartbroken”.

“This is a community that has suffered over and over again. A lot of times that’s where we end up,” Deegan said. “This is something that should not and should not continue in our community.”

People hold hands in a prayer circle.
Residents gather to pray near the scene of a shooting in Jacksonville on Saturday after a gunman killed three people at a neighborhood convenience store before killing himself. (John Raoux/The Associated Press)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, after a phone conversation with the sheriff, called the shooter “scum” and condemned his racist motivation.

“This guy killed himself rather than face the music and take responsibility for his actions. He took the coward’s way out,” said DeSantis, who was in Iowa for the Republican presidential nomination.

US President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland have been briefed on the shooting, officials said.

“Waiting to hear from my colleagues”

Penny Jones told The Associated Press that she worked at the store until a few months ago. He lives a few blocks away in a predominantly black neighborhood.

“I’m just waiting to hear from my colleagues that I’ve worked with in the past,” Jones said. “I don’t know if it’s safe to drive around the block.”

Jones added that he feels “uncomfortable, scared”.

“I don’t want to leave my house. I wonder if I want to go back to the store, will this be more frequent? I don’t know what the reason is. confused: There are a lot of different feelings going on now,” he said.

Recent shootings targeting black communities

The deadly shooting came hours after a memorial march in Washington ended in the nation’s capital, where organizers drew attention to the growing threat of hate-motivated violence against people of color.

An attack on a shopping center in a predominantly black neighborhood is sure to raise concerns about past shootings of black Americans, such as the one at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket in 2022. historic African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, in 2015.

The Buffalo supermarket shooting, in particular, stands out as one of the deadliest black-on-black attacks in US history. Ten people were killed by an armed person. who was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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