The shooting on Saturday afternoon occurred at a Dollar General in Jacksonville, FL. A gunman killed three people before taking his own life. The attack took place near Edward Waters University, a historically Black institution, where the shooter first attempted to gain entry before being turned away by campus security. The gunman then drove just down the road to a local store and killed three Black customers. The shooter used an AR-15 and a Glock-style handgun, according to authorities. Notes left by the shooter's parents and social media accounts made it clear he was racist who wanted to kill Black people in his attack, according to law enforcement. The shooter's AR-15 was embellished with swastikas that the gunman had drawn himself, according to news reports.
Multiple news outlets have highlighted the fact that Palmeter was held under the Baker Act in 2017, after an altercation with family members. The Baker Act is a Florida law that lets family members to have a loved one committed for psychiatric evaluation and/or treatment. The act allows for the institutionalization of a loved one without their prior knowledge or consent, if family members are able to prove the person lacks the mental capacity or willingness to seek treatment themselves. The firearms used in Saturday's shooting were purchased and possessed legally, said Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters.
American Gun co-authors Zusha Elinson and Cameron McWhirter have written extensively on laws enacted around the United States in an effort to keep weapons out of the hands of disturbed individuals. As the investigation surrounding this most recent tragedy develops, a central question that officials will be trying to answer: How did a person held under psychiatric evaluation for threatening family members a few years ago legally get his hands on an AR-15?