The Justice Department announced Sunday that it will be investigating the Jacksonville shooting that left three victims dead as a hate crime and an act of “racially motivated violent extremism.”
“Yesterday in Jacksonville, Florida, three people were killed in a horrific act of hate,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “In the wake of the mass shooting, FBI and [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] agents responded to the scene and are continuing to work closely with local law enforcement on the ground.”
“The Justice Department is investigating this attack as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism,” Garland continued. “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.”
Three people were killed in what police called a “racially motivated” shooting at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Fla., on Saturday, the local sheriff said. The gunman, identified as 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter, took his own life after shooting and killing the three victims.
The sheriff said that it was clear the gunman “hated Black people,” pointing to his manifestos as his reasoning.
Police said the shooting took place near Edward Waters University, a historically Black college, after Palmeter, who is white, was denied access to the campus.
Garland reiterated in his statement that no American should be afraid of “hate-fueled violence,” adding that “no family should have to grieve the loss of a loved one to bigotry and hate.”
“One of the Justice Department’s first priorities upon its founding in 1870 was to bring to justice white supremacists who used violence to terrorize Black Americans,” he said. “That remains our urgent charge today. The Justice Department will never stop working to protect everyone in our country from unlawful acts of hate.”
The Jacksonville FBI office also said it will be investigating the shooting as a hate crime. President Biden denounced the shooting Sunday, emphasizing that “white supremacy has no place in America.”