The white supremacist who killed three people in a racially motivated mass shooting in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday tried to enter the historically Black college (HBCU), Edward Waters University (EWU) prior to the attack, police and the university have confirmed.
The shooter, Ryan Christopher Palmeter, who was 21, was seen wearing a mask and a bulletproof vest at Edward Waters before heading just three-quarters of a mile to the Dollar General store to carry out the deadly shooting.
The university stated in a news release, that the gunman had been turned away from the campus when he refused to identify himself to an on-campus security officer and was asked to leave.
“We learned that the perpetrator of this heinous act did come to the Edward Waters campus via his vehicle and drive onto the campus,” Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr., EWU’s president and CEO said in a video posted to the university’s Facebook page. He said campus security “directly confronted this perpetrator almost immediately.”
“The perpetrator, then did put on an armored vest and get back in his vehicle, and at that time, our campus security pursued him further and directed him off of the Edward Waters campus, followed him in his vehicle down King’s road, and away from the Edward Waters campus,” Faison continued. “Unfortunately, little did we know that he had some, of course, very, very heinous and [villainous] aims. and sometime thereafter, then went into a local place of business, and murdered, three individuals.”
Campus security reported the encounter to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the school quickly issued a “stay in place” order to its students and campus community.
The lockdown was in place for several hours, restricting access to anyone leaving or coming on the campus. An all-clear was given to students at 4:35 p.m. via the Campus Emergency Notification System, ‘Tiger Alert,’ the statement mentions.
In the wake of the mass shooting, this morning Gov. Ron DeSantis announced $1 million to boost security at the Edward Waters University.
According to a news release for DeSantis’ office, the initial, immediate award of $1 million is coming through the Volunteer Florida Foundation in addition to an award of $100,000 to help the impacted families of the tragic shooting.
“We are not going to allow our HBCUs to be targets for hateful scumbags,” DeSantis said in the release. “I’ve directed my administration to use every resource available to ensure the Edward Waters campus is safe following this shooting and to help the impacted families as they mourn their loved ones.”
According to WJAX-TV, The Florida Department of Law Enforcement began visiting the EWU’s campus on Sunday, providing additional security including during the vigil, and began monitoring social media for any additional threats.