A report published by Rolling Stone on Wednesday sheds new light on the views of the white gunman who killed three Black residents in a racially motivated attack at a Jacksonville Dollar General on Saturday.
Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said the shooter left behind a racist manifesto that hasn’t been released publicly, but Rolling Stone said it reviewed the gunman’s writings in which he “hoped for a race war.”
Law enforcement officials have said an ideology of hatred motivated the 21-year-old Clay County man to open fire in a Dollar General, a shooting that has devastated the New Town community and beyond.
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The attack left three dead: 52-year-old Angela Carr, 29-year-old Jerrald Gaillon, and 19-year-old A.J. Laguerre Jr., targets that were random but for their race.
According to the report, the gunman’s writing mentioned specific targets including the artists known as Eminem and Machine Gun Kelly. He referred to them using an anti-Black slur. He also dismissed Eminem’s work, and said it was “gay” and “liberal.”
He also spoke fondly of mass killers like Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, and the Virginia Tech school shooter.
“He just didn’t like government. He didn’t like the left or right if that’s what we’re talking about. He didn’t like anything,” Sheriff Waters said in a news conference on Monday.
But the shooter did mention Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a Black man, and called him “the rare principled conservative,” Rolling Stone reported.
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Oren Segal with the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism said hate-filled online forums can provide meaning, no matter how vile, for people like the shooter, who reportedly isolated himself in his room after flunking out of college and being fired from his job.
“They’re offering them ideologies and ideas, and a sense of belonging, through hatred,” Segal said. “We have now seen multiple times, individuals writing names of previous shooters on their weapons or hate symbols, right, not just in Jacksonville, but in Buffalo, and in Christ Church.”
Segal said the number of extremist-related mass shootings has been growing in recent years, with the ADL tracking 27 such attacks in the past 12 years, compared with 20 identified in the previous 40 years.
“We are currently living in an epidemic of extremist-motivated mass shootings in this country,” he said.
To reverse the trend, he recommends that online platforms do more to create friction to slow down the spread of hate.
“These are private companies,” Segal said. “This is not about freedom of speech. This is about willingness to put money into efforts to make it more difficult for somebody to learn how and where to kill people online.”
Sheriff Waters previously said the shooter’s manifesto would be released after an FBI review maybe this week or next week.