Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

The gunman who killed three folks at a Greenback Common retailer in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday had earlier been turned away from the campus of a traditionally Black college – simply blocks away from the location of the taking pictures that focused Black folks, authorities mentioned.

The shooter, described by police as a White man in his early 20s, first went to the campus of Edward Waters College, the place he refused to determine himself to an on-campus safety officer and was requested to depart, the college said in a press launch.

“The person returned to their automotive and left campus with out incident. The encounter was reported to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Workplace by EWU safety,” the college mentioned.

The college, which is in a traditionally Black neighborhood, went into lockdown Saturday and college students residing on campus have been instructed to remain of their residence halls.

The suspect, who has not been publicly recognized, placed on a bulletproof vest and masks whereas nonetheless on campus earlier than he went to the close by Greenback Common, Jacksonville Sheriff T.Okay. Waters instructed CNN’s Jim Acosta.

Armed with an AR-15 model rifle and a handgun, the gunman opened hearth exterior the shop after which once more inside, fatally taking pictures the three victims earlier than killing himself, in response to Waters.

Authorities haven’t publicly recognized the victims, described as two males and one feminine, all of whom are Black, the sheriff mentioned.

Investigators at the moment are probing the gunman’s motives, historical past with regulation enforcement calls and the way he obtained the firearms, Waters mentioned, including what is obvious is that the assault focused Black folks.

“This taking pictures was racially motivated, and he hated Black folks,” Waters mentioned at a information convention Saturday night.

The suspect left behind writings to his dad and mom, the media and federal brokers that outlined his “disgusting ideology of hate” and used racial slurs, the sheriff instructed reporters. It didn’t seem that the shooter knew the victims and it’s believed the shooter acted alone, he mentioned.

“There’s completely no proof that the shooter is a part of any giant group,” he added.

“This can be a darkish day in Jacksonville’s historical past,” the sheriff mentioned. “Any lack of life is tragic, however the hate that motivated the shooter’s killing spree provides a further layer of heartbreak.”

The FBI has launched a federal civil rights investigation into the taking pictures and “will pursue this incident as a hate crime,” mentioned Sherri Onks, particular agent in control of the FBI’s Jacksonville workplace.

The Jacksonville assault marked one in all a number of shootings reported in public locations within the US over two days, together with close to a parade in Massachusetts and at a highschool soccer recreation in Oklahoma.

There have been not less than 470 mass shootings within the US to this point in 2023, in response to the Gun Violence Archive. Like CNN, the archive defines a mass taking pictures during which 4 or extra individuals are wounded or killed, not together with the shooter.

The nation surpassed the 400 mark in July – the earliest month such a excessive quantity has been recorded since 2013, the group mentioned.

Shooter’s father referred to as police after taking pictures began

Legislation enforcement on the scene of the taking pictures in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday. – WJXT

The shooter, who lived in Clay County together with his dad and mom, left his house round 11:39 a.m. Saturday and headed to Jacksonville in neighboring Duval County, Waters instructed CNN.

At 1:18 p.m., the gunman texted his father and instructed him to examine his pc, in response to Waters, who didn’t present particulars on what was on the pc.

At 1:53 p.m., the daddy referred to as the Clay County Sheriff’s workplace, the sheriff mentioned.

“By that point, he had started his taking pictures spree contained in the Greenback Common,” Waters mentioned of the gunman. Officers responded to the scene because the gunman was exiting the constructing.

“He noticed them, he retreated again contained in the constructing and went into an workplace,” the place he shot himself, Waters mentioned.

Images of the weapons the gunman had have been proven by authorities, together with one firearm that had swastikas drawn on it. Whereas it stays below investigation whether or not the gunman bought the weapons legally, the sheriff mentioned they didn’t belong to the dad and mom.

“These weren’t his dad and mom’ weapons,” Waters instructed reporters Saturday. “I can’t say that he owned them however I do know his dad and mom didn’t – his dad and mom didn’t need them of their home.”

“The suspect’s household, they didn’t do that. They’re not accountable for this. That is his choice, his choice alone,” the sheriff later instructed CNN.

Gunman’s historical past and entry to weapons being probed

The shooter was the topic of a 2017 regulation enforcement name below the state’s Baker Act, which permits folks to be involuntarily detained and topic to an examination for as much as 72 hours throughout a psychological well being disaster.

Waters didn’t present particulars on what led to the Baker Act name in that case, however mentioned usually an individual who has been detained below the act just isn’t eligible to buy firearms.

“If there’s a Baker Act scenario, they’re prohibited from getting weapons,” he instructed CNN. “We don’t know if that Baker Act was recorded correctly, whether or not it was thought of a full Baker Act.”

The shooter’s writings indicated he was conscious of a mass taking pictures at a Jacksonville gaming occasion the place two folks have been killed precisely 5 years earlier, and will have chosen the date of his assault to coincide with that anniversary, Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan mentioned.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday condemned the taking pictures and referred to as the gunman a “scumbag.”

“He was concentrating on folks primarily based on their race. That’s completely unacceptable. This man killed himself somewhat than face the music and settle for duty for his actions, and so he took the coward’s approach out. However we condemn what occurred within the strongest doable phrases,” DeSantis mentioned, in response to a video assertion despatched to CNN by the governor’s workplace.

The US Division of Homeland Safety is “carefully monitoring the scenario,” Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas mentioned in a press release on Saturday.

“Too many People – in Jacksonville and throughout our nation – have misplaced a beloved one due to racially-motivated violence. The Division of Homeland Safety is dedicated to working with our state and native companions to assist stop one other such abhorrent, tragic occasion from occurring,” he mentioned.

CNN’s Isabel Rosales, Ashley R. Williams, Sharif Paget, Philip Wang and Package Maher contributed to this report.

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