The gunman who targeted Black customers at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Fla., killed three people in 11 minutes, law enforcement officials said on Sunday, identifying the gunman and three victims as they offered a chilling timeline of the shooting that authorities are investigating as a hate crime.
Sheriff T.K. Waters of Jacksonville identified the victims as Angela Michelle Carr, 52; Anolt Joseph Laguerre Jr., known as A.J., 29; and Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, 19. He identified the gunman as Ryan Christopher Palmeter, a white 21-year-old from neighboring Clay County.
The gunman began his rampage at around 1:08 p.m. on Saturday by shooting 11 times into a car parked outside the Dollar General, the sheriff said. He then killed a second person inside the store before chasing some customers out — it is unclear why — and then returning to shoot at a woman he did not injure. He later killed a third person inside the store.
When sheriff’s deputies arrived, at about 1:19 p.m., they heard a single gunshot, which was most likely the gunman killing himself, Sheriff Waters said.
“When a person grabs a hold of a gun with hateful intentions, it’s very difficult to stop that from happening,” he said.
The gunman had no criminal record, though the authorities had held him for an involuntary, 72-hour psychiatric evaluation in 2017, when he was 15, the sheriff said. A year earlier, when the gunman was 14, the police received a domestic violence call involving him and his brother.
The gunman legally bought the two weapons he used in the shooting — a Glock handgun and an AR-15-style rifle — in April and June, Sheriff Waters said in a news conference.
In a subsequent interview, Sheriff Waters, a Republican, said that the 2017 psychiatric evaluation under a Florida law known as the Baker Act did not appear to show up in the background checks available to the gun dealers, perhaps because the gunman had been a minor at the time of the evaluation.
Shortly before the shooting on Sunday, the gunman was spotted putting on a tactical vest in a parking lot at Edward Waters University, a small and private historically Black institution. A campus security guard saw him, and the gunman drove away in a gray Honda Element. The guard reported the gunman’s suspicious presence to a nearby sheriff’s deputy, Sheriff Waters said, but no one called police dispatch or 911.
Two people were in proximity to the gunman in the Edward Waters parking lot, but he did not go after them, the sheriff said, cautioning against assumptions that the university might have been the intended target.
Still, the sheriff said it was clear that the gunman sought Black victims. Most — but not all — of the customers he ushered out of the store were white, the sheriff said at the news conference. In the interview, Sheriff Waters said the gunman did not shoot at one person inside the store who was also white.
“I know for a fact that he did not like Black people,” said Sheriff Waters, who is Black. “He made that very clear.”
Toward the end of the shooting, the gunman texted his father, instructing him to “use a screwdriver” to get into his room, the sheriff said. On the gunman’s laptop, his family found a last will and testament and a suicide note as part of roughly 27 pages of racist writings, Sheriff Waters said in the interview. The family then called the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, though by then the shooting had already taken place.
A police car was parked outside the family home in Orange Park, Fla., on Sunday. Residents of the quiet, suburban neighborhood declined to speak about the family. Public records and newspaper articles suggest that the family moved to the area from Maryland in the 1980s.
The Justice Department is investigating the attack as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism. In March, the F.B.I. released an analysis of hate crime incidents in 2021 — the last year data was fully available — which said that hate crimes overall had increased by more than 11 percent since 2020. According to the data, anti-Black hate crimes made up the largest “bias incident category,” with 31 percent of all single-bias incidents in 2021.
Jacksonville, a city of nearly 1 million people, where about 30 percent of residents are Black, has a long history of racism. Sunday marked the 63rd anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday, when white supremacists severely beat a group of mostly Black civil rights activists. Mayor Donna Deegan and other local officials planned to attend a commemorative ceremony in the afternoon, before a vigil for the Dollar General shooting victims.
Last year, on the morning of Sept. 11, a neo-Nazi group unfurled swastika flags and antisemitic banners on an Interstate 95 overpass. And earlier in 2022, homeowners in two neighborhoods found fliers with hate speech littering their driveways.
Last October, an extremist group displayed antisemitic messages around Jacksonville, including at TIAA Bank Field ahead of a Florida-Georgia college football game. Other hateful messages appeared on an Interstate 10 overpass and along another highway.
“We’re still fighting the same fight, but some days it feels like we’re going backwards,” Ms. Deegan said at an earlier vigil on Sunday morning.
In May, Ms. Deegan, a Democrat, was elected to lead Florida’s largest city, where Republican mayors had been in power for all but four of the last 30 years. Among her administrative appointments was a chief of diversity, equity and inclusion — a $185,000-a-year position that a committee of the Republican-held City Council voted to defund on Thursday, citing budgetary concerns.
Ms. Deegan blamed state politics under Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican running for president, who has enacted laws rolling back diversity and inclusion policies — and whose administration came under withering criticism for revising African American history standards to say that enslaved Americans developed skills that “could be applied for their personal benefit.”
Mr. DeSantis is scheduled to campaign in South Carolina on Monday. His campaign has not yet said if he still plans to go.
The morning vigil, at Saint Paul A.M.E. Church of Jacksonville, was attended by at least four Edward Waters University students. The choir sang “Amazing Grace” as some parishioners wiped away tears.
“We have three people who are dead because they are Black,” State Senator Tracie Davis, a Jacksonville Democrat, said. “Shopping. In our community. Gunned down. Because they were Black.”
David Jamison, who has taught history at Edward Waters for five years, said the students he spoke to about the shooting were “overwhelmed” and still processing what had happened.
“The rhetoric that’s coming from the government is encouraging people in their negative and, I believe, racist beliefs,” Dr. Jamison said. “We’re going to continue to teach all history. All people’s history. No one’s going to stop them. No one’s going to stop me.”
Alan Feuer, Adam Goldman, Teshia Morris, Nicholas Nehamas and Glenn Thrush contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research.