A gunman kills three people himself in a racially motivated shooting, the mayor of Jacksonville says, according to Reuters

(Reuters) – A white man armed with a high-explosive rifle and a handgun killed three blacks at a Dollar General (NYSE:) store in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday before shooting himself in what local law enforcement described as an accident. A racially motivated crime.

“This shooting was racially motivated, and he hated black people,” Jacksonville Sheriff TK Waters (NYSE:) said at a news conference.

The suspect, who Waters described as a white male wearing a tactical vest, has not been identified. Waters said the three victims — two men and a woman — were black.

Waters said authorities believe the shooter acted alone, and that prior to the shooting he authored “several statements” to the media, his parents and law enforcement detailing his hatred of black people.

Waters described his weapons as a Glock and AR-15 with swastikas, a reference to a lightweight, semi-automatic long gun often used in mass shootings.

“The hate that catalyzed the shooter’s killing spree adds an extra layer of heartbreak,” Waters said.

He said the shooter was spotted at a local historically black college, Edward Waters University, where he wore his jacket and mask before going to the local branch of Dollar General, a chain of discount stores across the United States.

Sherry Onks, the special agent in charge of the FBI in Jacksonville, said federal officials have opened a civil rights investigation and will pursue the incident as a hate crime.

“Hate crimes have always been and always will be a top priority for the FBI because they are not only an attack on the victim, but also intended to threaten and intimidate an entire community,” Onkes said.

US President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland have been briefed on the incident.

Mass shootings have become common in the United States, with more than 469 incidents so far in 2023, according to the Armed Violence Archive. The nonprofit group defines a mass shooting as any injury or death of four or more people, and does not include the shooter.

Saturday’s incident in Jacksonville is similar to last year’s shooting in Buffalo, in which a white supremacist killed 10 blacks, and occurred five years after another gunman opened fire during a video game tournament in Jacksonville, killing two people before shooting the two. Himself.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis condemned the shooting, and the shooter took a “cowardly way out.”

“The shooting, based on the statement they found out from the scum who did it, was racially motivated,” DeSantis said. “It was targeting people based on their race. That’s totally unacceptable.”

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