Three people were shot and killed at a Dollar General in Florida in what officials are calling a hate crime.
A white gunman opened fire on Aug. 26 in what authorities are calling a racially motivated shooting at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Fla. Three Black people were shot and killed, including a 19-year-old Dollar General employee.
The gunman was identified as Ryan Christopher Palmeter, a 21-year-old from neighboring Clay County. He was armed with an AR-15-style rifle and a Glock handgun, both of which he purchased legally in Florida, officials said.
[Read more: “Gunman in King Soopers Mass Shooting Competent to Stand Trial”]
As reported by the The New York Times, the gunman began his rampage by shooting and killing a person in a car parked outside the Dollar General. He then went inside the store and shot and killed two other people. At one point, it is reported that he chased some customers out, although it’s unclear why.
Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said that the gunman had written “several manifestoes,” including one to his parents, in which he detailed his “disgusting ideology of hate.” The Justice Department is investigating the shooting as a hate crime
Prior to the shooting at Dollar General, Palmeter had been spotted on the campus of Edward Waters University, a small and historically Black institution about half a mile from the Dollar General. A campus security guard saw him, and the gunman drove away. The guard reported the gunman’s suspicious presence to a nearby sheriff’s deputy.
Palmeter had no criminal arrest history, although he had been involuntarily held under the Baker Act in 2017 for a mental health evaluation.
This Jacksonville shooting is the latest incidence of a racially motivated shooting at a retail store. A shooting last year that targeted Black people left 10 dead at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., and in 2019, an attack at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killed 22. The gunman in that shooting told the police that he wanted to kill Mexicans.
As the number of crises in the United States and in food retail locations increases, Progressive Grocer has found that most grocery retailers are ill-prepared for a disaster event. According to a study of Progressive Grocer readers conducted earlier this year, a whopping 40% of grocery retailers said that they’ve experienced at least one crisis or emergency incident in the past two years. Half of respondents also said that the threat climate in their store(s) is now higher than just five years ago.