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Jewish leaders react to white supremacist killer

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Police reveal that the murderer used an AR-style rifle scrawled with at least two swastikas.


Before the massacre began at the Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Fla., the gunman reportedly texted his father to check his laptop, where multiple racist manifestos awaited alongside a suicide note.

Sheriff T.K.Waters in Jacksonville said that Ryan Palmeter, 21, “hated black people,” leading the man who lived with his parents to don a tactical vest, arm himself with a Glock and an AR-style rifle (a long gun similar to the AR-15 now common in mass shootings in the United States) before murdering three people at a Dollar General store. Photos released of the weapons showed white swastikas drawn next to the serial number and “Palmetto State Armory” logo.

Law enforcement identified the victims as Angela Michelle Carr, 52; Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr., 19; and Jerrald Gallion, 29.

Palmeter shot and killed himself after he barricaded himself in an office.

Detailed information on what Waters described as “this cowardly shooter’s personal ideology” has yet to emerge. The writing described by Waters as “the diary of a madman” does not appear online.

One former classmate described Palmeter as socially awkward, “obsessed with video games” and “involved with Internet humor.” A neighbor speculated that Palmeter’s allegedly discontinuation of certain medication may have contributed to the shooting.

Before shooting up the store, Palmeter had visited Edward Waters University, a historically black private college in Jacksonville, possibly with the intent to attack and apparently deterred by campus security when asked to identify himself.

Amy Spitalnick, CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said that “from Charlottesville to Pittsburgh to Poway to El Paso to Buffalo and now Jacksonville, we’re witnessing a cycle of white supremacist violence—fueled by increasingly normalized conspiracy theories and hate promoted directly by politicians and pundits and enabled by social media.”

Ted Deutch, the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, said: “We must also take stock of what fuels the unbridled hate and conspiracy theories that propel extremists to carry out such wanton acts of violence.” He said that “from government and law enforcement to social-media companies and the business community, there is a role we can all play to reject hate and prevent it from spreading.”

Spitalnick added that “it’s sadly no surprise that this racist shooter marked his gun with swastikas: because antisemitism, anti-black racism and white supremacy are inextricably linked, animating and fueling each other in a constant feedback loop with deadly consequences for our communities and our democracy.”

Waters said of Palmeter that “he hated blacks, and I think he hated just about everyone that wasn’t white. He made that very clear.”

The shooting came two days before the 60th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington against racism and for ethnic equality, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Image: A Dollar General store in Fort White, Fla., about 90 minutes west of Jacksonville. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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