(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) — The suspected gunman alleged to have fatally shot three Black people and wounded a dozen others in a “racially motivated” rampage at a Jacksonville, Florida, store, was identified by officials Sunday as a 21-year-old white man who left behind a last will and testament and “the writings of a madman” full of hate.
The suspect, identified as Ryan Christopher Palmeter, died by apparent suicide after unleashing a barrage of gunfire with an AR-15-style weapon he purchased legally and used to kill Black shoppers at a Dollar General store on Saturday afternoon, Jacksonville County Sheriff T.K. Waters said at a news conference Sunday afternoon.
Waters said the massacre was captured on store surveillance camera. The sheriff’s office played a brief clip from the security footage showing the man he identified as Palmeter shooting at a Black Kia 11 times outside the store, killing his first victim, identified as Angela Michelle Carr, 52, before storming through the front sliding glass doors and gunning down victims at random.
The sheriff identified the other victims killed in the shooting as 19-year-old Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr. and 29-year-old Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion.
“It was clear his crimes were motivated by wanting to shoot Black people,” Waters said.
The alleged assailant’s writings were discovered in physical form “on his person,” sources told ABC News. Investigators have not found a substantial social media footprint left by the suspect, but are continuing to search, according to the sources. Investigators also searched the suspect’s home in a Jacksonville suburb, officials said.
Waters described the suspect’s written screeds seized in the investigation as “the writings of a madman,” with paragraph after paragraph full of offensive and hateful language, including racial slurs.
Waters the shooting at the Dollar General in the predominantly Black New Town neighborhood northwest of downtown Jacksonville occurred after the suspect was confronted at Edwards Waters University, a historically Black Christian college on the west side of Jacksonville, and was asked to leave.
He alleged the suspect then put on a bulletproof vest and a mask, drove across town to the Dollar General on Kings Road and opened fire on Black shoppers with a semiautomatic rifle which appeared to have swastikas on it.
“I think he was looking for the first place he could stop that was occupied to commit this horrific act,” Waters said on GMA.
The assailant, according to investigators, lived with his parents in Clay County, southwest of Jacksonville.
The shooting erupted at 1:53 p.m. on Saturday, about 35 minutes after the suspect sent a text message to his father, telling him to look at his computer, the sheriff said at a news conference on Saturday. Waters said the suspect’s family called the Clay County Sheriff’s Office just as the shooting was occurring.
“By that time, he had already began shooting in Jacksonville,” Waters said on Saturday.
The shooting happened five years to the day when a 24-year-old gunman killed two people and wounded 12 others at a 2018 Madden 19 e-games tournament in Jacksonville.
The suspect in Saturday’s shooting referenced the e-games tournament attack in his writings, Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan told reporters on Saturday.
“Yesterday in Jacksonville, Florida, three people were killed in a horrific act of hate. In the wake of the mass shooting, FBI and ATF agents responded to the scene and are continuing to work closely with local law enforcement on the ground,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement Sunday. “The Justice Department is investigating this attack as a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism. The entire Justice Department extends its deepest condolences to the loved ones of the victims and to the Jacksonville community as they mourn an unimaginable loss.”
The FBI confirmed on Saturday that it is assisting in the investigation of Saturday’s attack.
In March, the FBI released data showing that hate crimes in the United States spiked by 35% in 2021. The bureau recorded a total of 10,840 hate crime incidents in 2021, up from 8,052 in 2020.
On May 14, 2022, a self-professed 18-year-old white supremacist wearing body arming and wielding an AR-15 style weapon fatally shot 10 Black people at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, and wounded three others. The gunman, Payton Gendron, pleaded guilty to 15 state charges in all, including domestic terrorism motivated by hate, murder and attempted murder. He was sentenced in February to life in prison without the possibility of parole and could still face the death penalty in a federal case against him.
During his sentencing hearing, Gendron claimed he was brainwashed by white supremacist propaganda he consumed on the internet, saying in court, “I believed what I read online and acted out of hate, and now I can’t take it back.”
White supremacist propaganda, including the mass distribution of flyers containing hateful language and images, projections on buildings and in-person gatherings, reached a record high in the United States in 2022, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The organization’s yearly assessment of propaganda activity found 6,751 incidents in 2022, the highest number since the ADL began tracking such incidents in 2017. This total includes racist, antisemitic, or anti-LGBTQ content and efforts.
The count represented a 38% increase over the previous year, according to the ADL.
Saturday’s shooting occurred as the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington, a prominent moment in the Civil Rights Movement, was being marked in Washington, D.C. The Rev. Al Sharpton, a national civil rights leader, condemned the shooting in a statement Sunday, saying the suspect “decided to open fire at a Dollar General while we were marching against hate in Washington.”
“Nineteen buses came here from Florida … including one from Jacksonville, and while these Floridians were still on the road there was a killing in their home state,” said Shapton, adding he will address the shooting in a sermon he is scheduled to give at Howard University in Washington, D.C., on Sunday. “I am reminded of the Birmingham bombing, which came just a few weeks after the 1963 March on Washington.”
ABC News Meredith Deliso and Victoria Arancio contributed to this report.
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