A rally and prayer vigil was held in Jacksonville on Sunday, after a gunman shot dead three Black people in what the authorities described as a racially motivated attack in the city the previous day.
« What happened yesterday is travesty and underscores that white supremacy and racism, and bigotry is still the number one threat for the well-being of Black Americans and indigenous people, » said one local resident and activist.
Footage shows people gathered including Florida’s Governor and Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis. Police officers were also seen securing a cordon around the Dollar General store where the shooting took place.
« That could have been anyone’s family member, » said another local, Chantelle. « Unfortunately this is a travesty and I just feel sad for all the families. … No one ever plans to go to the store for simple household things or milk and did not plan not to return home. Innocent people.”
According to the local sheriff’s office, the shooter was identified as 21-year-old while male, Ryan Palmeter, who killed two men and one woman before turning the gun on himself. The FBI is treating the attack as a hate crime.
« It could be that this guy had a mental health problem, » added a third resident. « But they should be looking into it. People being able to buy weapons if they haven’t at least a health check, shouldn’t be allowed to buy. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”
The authorities also confirmed Palmeter bought his weapons legally and had no criminal record, although was briefly held in 2017 under the Baker Act, state legislation allowing for an ‘involuntary examination’ on mental health grounds.
According to the Gun Violence Archive project, there have been 28,000 gun-related deaths in the US so far in 2023.
The latest shooting came on the 60th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s ‘March on Washington’ and ‘I have a dream’ speech.