Loving mother. Devoted father ‘taken away from us forever’: Families mourn Jacksonville shooting victims

Hundreds of people gathered Sunday to remember and mourn the loss of three Black people who were fatally shot in what authorities say was a racist attack in Jacksonville, Florida.

Authorities say the suspect, 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter, who wore a tactical vest while carrying an “AR-style” rifle and a handgun bearing a swastika, opened fire at a Dollar General store in the predominantly Black neighborhood of New Town on Saturday, killing two men and a woman. He then fatally shot himself.

Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters identified the victims as Angela Michelle Carr, 52; A.J. Laguerre, 19; and Jerrald Gallion, 29.

“This is a community that has suffered again and again. So many times this is where we end up,” Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan said Saturday. “This is something that should not and must not continue to happen in our community.”.

Suspect made two stops before shooting

Waters shared new information on the shooting Monday. He said Palmeter previously worked at a Dollar Tree store in southwest Jacksonville from October 2021 to July 2022.

On the day of the shooting, Palmeter made two stops before going to the Dollar General store where he fatally shot three people, then himself. First, Palmeter drove to a Family Dollar store in Jacksonville, wearing a mask over the lower part of his face shortly after noon on Saturday and left a few minutes later carrying a small bag, according to the sheriff.

Surveillance video shows Palmeter opening and holding the door for two Black customers — one of them a child — before exiting the store and two Black female customers entering the store behind him.

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Palmeter then drove to Edward Waters University where he parked at M.B. Salter residence hall at 12:48 p.M., According to a timestamp on the video. There, he put on a tactical vest and blue, button-up shirt retrieved from the rear hatch before getting back behind the wheel.

At 1:18 p.M., The video shows Palmeter backing out of his spot and driving off the lot as one of two security guards exits their vehicle and walks toward Palmeter’s car.

Soon after, Palmeter drove to the Dollar General store in Northwest Jacksonville where he fatally shot the three victims before he turned the gun on himself.

Waters said Monday that he doesn’t believe the university or its students were a target.

“I don’t believe that EWU was a target,” Waters said, noting that two Black men were sitting in another car parked nearby. “It looks to me that he went there to change into whatever he needed to change into,” he previously said, referring to the shooter’s tactical gear. “He had an opportunity to do violence there; he did not.”.

University President and CEO A Zachary Faison, Jr., Though, disagreed with Waters, saying Monday afternoon he believed the university to be the initial target.

As the oldest HBCU in Florida, Faison said its long, proud history of educating Black students would have made the school a target.

“It was that history, that progress, that Black excellence that this feeble, virulent-minded, white domestic terrorist sought to stamp out by aiming his original target at Edward Waters University,” Faison told reporters at a Monday news conference.

Faison said he would not directly “take qualm” with what Waters said, but that he believed the interaction could not have been a coincidence.

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“[The shooter] came to where he thought African Americans would be, and that’s Florida’s first HBCU,” Faison said. “It’s also not lost on us he came to the New Town community. This is the heart of the black community in Jacksonville.”.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Sunday that it is investigating the shooting as a hate crime.

Here’s what we know so far about the shooting victims:.

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Jarrald De’Shawn Gallion, 29

Jarrald De’Shawn Gallion, a customer, was the last person fatally shot. He entered the store with his girlfriend as the shooting was taking place, Waters said. During the Sunday evening prayer vigil, family and community members remembered Gallion as a devoted father who had planned to spend the weekend with his 4-year-old daughter.

Gallion’s family recalled his sense of humor and work ethic, and that he viewed his job as a restaurant manager as a way to provide for her.

“My brother shouldn’t have lost his life,” his sister, Latiffany Gallion, said Sunday. “A simple day of going to the store, and he’s taken away from us forever.”.

Sabrina Rozier, the child’s maternal grandmother, said Gallion “never missed a beat” and that he was supposed to see his daughter on Saturday.

Bishop John Guns said Gallion attended St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville.

“In two weeks I have to preach a funeral of a man who should still be alive,” Guns told the crowd. “He was not a gangster, he was not a thug – he was a father who gave his life to Jesus and was trying to get it together.

“I wept in church today like a baby because my heart is tired. We are exhausted,” he added.

Angela Michelle Carr, 52

Angela Michelle Carr, the first person the gunman killed, was sitting inside her black Kia sedan in the store’s parking lot, Waters said, showing footage preceding the shooting.

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Carr worked as an Uber driver, company spokesperson Sarah Casasnovas confirmed to USA TODAY. Carr had completed her last trip more than an hour before the shooting and had logged off the app.

Her son Chayvaughn Payne told The New York Times Carr had dropped off a friend at the store moments before she was killed. Payne said Carr was someone who would invite people to cookouts and other family events.

“She would give her shirt off her back for people,” Payne told the Times. “This is really hard to process. To lose a mother for nothing.”.

Carr’s cousin Kawana Staffney-Ashe told Keys Weekly that Carr was originally from Key West but left years ago. “She never bothered anybody,” Staffney-Ashe said. “She didn’t deserve this, just because of the color of her skin.”.

Carr is survived by her son Payne, two daughters and 14 grandchildren, Payne told USA TODAY.

Anolt Joseph “A.J.” Laguerre Jr., 19

Anolt Joseph “A.J.” Laguerre Jr., A store employee, was shot as he tried to flee when the gunman entered the Dollar General.

“The DG family mourns the loss of our colleague Anolt Joseph ‘AJ’ Laguerre Jr., Who, along with two of our customers, were the victims of senseless violence yesterday,” Dollar General said in a statement.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to their families and friends as we all try to comprehend this tragedy.”.

Contributing: Charles Ventura, USA TODAY; Gary T. Mills, The Florida Times-Union; The Associated Press.

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