A shooting at a Florida Dollar General store in Northwest Jacksonville which left three black people dead was ‘racially motivated,’ officials say.
The incident, which also saw the white gunman die from a self-inflicted gun wound, on Saturday is being investigated as a hate crime by the FBI and local authorities.
The suspected shooter, in his 20s, used an assault rifle covered in Nazi swastikas in the attack, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
He is said to have sent a manifesto which detailed his racial hatred to police, media and his parents before the attack.
Emergency services, including a SWAT team, rushed to the scene on Kings Road, at around 1pm on Saturday.
Sheriff T.K. Waters said the gunman ‘hated black people’ and ‘wanted to kill “n******”.’ He described the shooting as a ‘dark day in Jacksonville’s history’.
A shooting at a Florida Dollar General store in Northwest Jacksonville which left three black people dead was ‘racially motivated’
The gunman was initially said to have barricaded himself inside the store and later died from a self-inflicted gun wound
It was a racist attack and the gunman used an assault rifle covered in Nazi swastikas
The victims were described as two African-American men and one woman.
The gunman was seen putting on tactical gear at the nearby Edward Waters University (EWU) campus moments before the shooting.
Security at the historically black college tried to detain him but he managed to evade them.
The suspect’s parents called the Sheriff’s Office after they found a concerning manifesto which contained a ‘disgusting ideology of hate’.
‘This shooting was racially motivated, and he hated black people,’ Sheriff T.K. Waters, who is black, said at a news conference.
‘He wanted to kill ‘n******’.’
He added that the gunman was in his 20s armed with an assault rifle and a handgun and ‘there is absolutely no evidence that the shooter is part of any larger group’ despite using an assault rifle covered in Nazi swastikas.
‘This is a dark day in Jacksonville’s history,’ the sheriff said. ‘Any loss of life is tragic, but the hate that motivated the shooter’s killing spree adds an additional layer of heartbreak.’
The suspect, who lived in Clay County with his parents, fatally shot himself before he was caught.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis described the shooter as ‘scumbag’ and called him a ‘coward’ for taking his own life.
Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office released photos of weapons the shooter used
Sheriff T.K. Waters told a press conference that the gunman hated black people but added there is no evidence he is part of any larger group
Panicked locals were seen forming a prayer circle with political leaders in the middle of the street following the tragic shooting
He said: ‘This shooting [was] based on the manifesto that they discovered from the scumbag who did this was racially motivated.
‘He was targeting people based on their race. That is totally unacceptable. This guy killed himself rather than face the music and accept responsibility for his actions.
‘He took coward’s way out. We condemn what happened in the strongest possible terms.
‘We send our condolences to the victims and their families.’
The suspect left his home at 11:39 to head to Jacksonville and texted his father to tell him to check his computer.
At 1.53pm, his parents called the sheriff’s office to report the manifesto they had found but by this time he had already begun his assault.
Panicked locals were seen forming a prayer circle with political leaders in the middle of the street following the tragic shooting.
Local reporter Vic Micolucci tweeted that the suspect ‘was spotted on campus at nearby Edwards University putting on a ballistics vest’ before heading to the Dollar General store.
A witness said he was just moments away from walking into the store but realized he had no money so went to another store nearby.
Moments later he said he heard gunshots ring out and saw the shooter was firing at cars.
He then witnessed a man fall back and another woman running away.
Emergency services, including a SWAT team, rushed to the scene on Kings Road, at around 1pm on Saturday
Police cordoned off the scene on Kings Road which happened in front Cascade Apartments
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis described the shooter as ‘scumbag’ and called him a ‘coward’ for taking his own life
Police have cordoned off the scene on Kings Road which happened in front Cascade Apartments.
‘This is unacceptable,’ Mayor Deegan said. ‘One shooting is too much but these mass shootings are really hard to take.’
She was spotted at the scene speaking to emergency services.
The suspect was seen on the EWU campus before the shooting. A suspicious man is said to have been spotted putting on a ballistics vest behind the library.
Security tried to catch him but he managed to escape, a source said.
Staff at EWU sent an alert out to students to warn them and asked them to remain their residence halls.
District 13 State Representative Angie Nixon, who represents the neighborhood, said the situation was ‘tragic’.
‘These are things that we want to try to avoid by making sure that our communities are fully resourced, making sure we’re creating a climate of love and not tension,’ Nixon told News4JAX.
She was there trying to help people remain calm and offer support.
Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman said she was devastated to see more upset across the community.
Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan (pictured) confirmed there are ‘a number of fatalities’ following the incident which saw the shooter barricade himself inside.
‘I’m tired of seeing all the shootings,’ Pittman said. ‘The people in this community are hurting.’
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and Jacksonville Fire and Rescue were seen responding to the scene. Some officers and crew were seen leaving the area just before 4.15pm.
She added that the alleged shooter was dead but it is not clear how he died.
North and southbound lanes of King Street near the Canal Street intersection have been blocked off. Residents were asked to avoid the area.
Jacksonville has a population of 971,000 and 30 percent of its residents are black.
Dollar General released a statement Saturday evening following the shooting.
It said: ‘We are heartbroken by the senseless act of violence that occurred at our Kings Road store in Jacksonville, Florida today.
‘At this time, supporting our Jacksonville employees and the DG family impacted by this tragedy is a top priority as we work closely with law enforcement.’
The Jacksonville Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.