- A young man’s troubled history culminated in a racially-charged shooting at Jacksonville’s Dollar General, leading to three tragic fatalities.
- Prior warnings, including the suspect’s appearance at Edward Waters University and disturbing manifestos, hinted at the impending violence.
- Officials, while grappling with the sorrow, emphasize the singular nature of the shooter’s actions and decry the underlying hateful ideology.
In a harrowing turn of events in Jacksonville, Florida, a 20-year-old white male is suspected of committing a racially motivated attack that led to the death of three Black individuals at a Dollar General store.
A History of Warning Signs
Officials reported that the young man, who later took his own life at the scene, had been on the radar of the authorities. He had been living with his parents in Clay County. The suspect’s history with law enforcement dates back to a 2016 domestic call made by his parents. Though not arrested at that time, he was later subjected to Florida’s Baker Act in 2017. Under this law, family and loved ones can request emergency mental health services and temporary detention for individuals deemed mentally ill.
The Clay County Sheriff, Michelle Cook, had alerted Jacksonville’s sheriff, T.K. Waters, at 11:39 a.m. on the day of the shooting, informing him that the suspect was on his way to Jacksonville.
On the Day of the Tragedy
Prior to the attack, security guards at Edward Waters University, a historically Black institution, spotted the suspect armed with a Glock pistol, wearing a bulletproof vest and mask. Although they attempted to apprehend him, he eluded capture, prompting the university to advise students to remain in their dormitories for safety. Thankfully, no students or faculty were harmed during the incident.
At 1:53 p.m., shortly before the shooting, the suspect’s parents reached out to the Clay County Sheriff’s office. They had discovered a manifesto in their home after receiving a text from their son at 1:18 p.m. instructing them to check his computer. By the time the authorities responded, the shooting had already commenced.
Disturbing Manifestos Emerge
Three separate manifestos were disseminated by the suspect before the attack: one to his parents, another to federal authorities, and a third to the media. “From these manifestos, it is abundantly clear that the shooter had racial motivations behind his actions,” stated Sheriff Waters. “Parts of these manifestos detail the shooter’s abhorrent hate ideology. He detested Black individuals. His intent was clear: to kill.”
Waters added, “I want to be very clear that there is absolutely no evidence that the shooter was part of any larger group. We are certain he acted entirely alone.”
- Lashawn Andrews shot in the face and killed in a group fight on E. 178th St. near Park Ave. in the Bronx, leaving two orphans
- Joe Santana’s confession reveals he killed Shatavia Walls as part of a gang initiation rite at East New York’s Pink Houses
- A 17-year-old hospitalized after being shot at Major R. Owens Health & Wellness Community Center in Crown Heights
A Dark Reminder
Jacksonville’s Mayor, Donna Deegan, indicated that the shooter’s manifesto referenced another shooting that occurred during a video game tournament in 2018. On the same date and around the same time, five years ago, David Katz, 24, fatally shot two people and injured ten others after losing a Madden NFL 19 game. He subsequently ended his life. Witnesses at the time believed one of the victims was targeted intentionally. Katz had a documented history of mental illness.
FBI Steps In
The FBI is treating the incident as a hate crime. Sherri Onks, the FBI’s local office Special Agent in Charge, emphasized that hate crimes remain a top priority. “Hate crimes are not just an attack on one victim but are intended to threaten and intimidate an entire community,” she said.
Further darkening the narrative, Sheriff Waters revealed that besides the Glock, the suspect had an AR-15 adorned with Nazi swastikas.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis responded to the shooting, expressing his disgust and condemning the racially motivated act. He said, “The individual took the coward’s way out before facing the consequences of his actions.”
Edward Waters University also issued a statement, expressing their deep condolences to the victims and their families and reaffirming their stance against hate crimes.
The investigation continues as officials strive to understand the full extent of the tragedy.