(CTN News) – An unidentified white man wearing a mask entered a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida, situated in the southern United States.
Tragically, he fatally shot three Black individuals in what authorities believe was a racially-driven assault.
The local sheriff’s office reported that the assailant, who is reported to be in his 20s but remains unnamed, donned body armor and carried both an assault-style rifle and a handgun during the incident.
He fatally shot three Black patrons, comprising two men and one woman. Following a confrontation with the police, he took his own life.
Jacksonville Sheriff Confirms Racially Motivated Shooting and Perpetrator’s Disturbing Ideology
During a press conference on Saturday, Jacksonville Sheriff T K Waters stated, “This shooting was driven by racial animosity, and he harbored strong aversion towards Black individuals.”
Sheriff Waters conveyed that law enforcement believed the perpetrator acted independently. Prior to the incident, he had composed “multiple manifestos” intended for the media, his parents, and law enforcement, outlining his repugnant ideology of hatred.
Additionally, Sheriff Waters revealed that the rifle used in the attack bore hand-drawn swastikas.
It was reported that the assailant was observed at Edward Waters University, a nearby historically Black college, where he donned his vest and a mask.
Subsequently, he proceeded to the local branch of Dollar General, a nationwide discount chain with stores scattered across the United States.
The identities of the victims targeted in the attack have yet to be disclosed.
Federal Investigation Launched as Jacksonville Shooting Spurs Concerns Over Hate Crimes
Sherri Onks, the special agent in charge of the Jacksonville FBI office, announced that federal authorities had initiated a civil rights investigation into the incident, treating it as a hate crime.
“Onks emphasized the FBI’s unwavering commitment to addressing hate crimes as a top priority,” stating, “Hate crimes don’t merely impact an individual victim, but they also aim to instill fear and intimidation within an entire community.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis strongly condemned the shooting, describing it as “horrific” and condemning the perpetrator as a “scumbag.”
DeSantis, who is vying for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential race, expressed his dismay over the targeting of individuals based on their racial identity, stressing that such behavior is entirely unacceptable.
The recent days have seen a string of shootings across the United States, a concerning trend attributed to the widespread availability of firearms in most states and an excess of guns surpassing the country’s population count.
Recent String of Violent Incidents Highlights Growing Concerns over Gun Violence in the United States
Earlier on the same day, a mass shooting occurred at a Caribbean festival in Boston’s northeastern city, leading to at least seven individuals being hospitalized, according to the police.
The night prior, two women were shot during a baseball game in Chicago, and a 16-year-old lost his life while four others were injured following an altercation at a high school football game in Oklahoma.
This Jacksonville shooting incident followed a disturbing event in May 2022, during which a self-declared white supremacist conducted a livestreamed shooting spree at a New York supermarket, resulting in the deaths of 10 Black individuals.
The assailant, Payton Gendron, meticulously planned the attack over several months, deliberately selecting Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo due to the significant African American population in the surrounding neighborhood.
Gendron eventually pleaded guilty to these heinous killings in November of the same year.