Families of 3 Black victims in fatal Florida Dollar General shooting plead for end to gun violence

Dec 5, 2023, 11:37 AM

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Lawyers and family members of three Black people who were fatally shot during a racially motivated attack at a north Florida Dollar General on Tuesday blamed the national chain for not providing security to protect customers and employees.

They are suing the store’s landlord, operator and security contractor for negligence, noting that lax security led to the deaths of Angela Carr, 52, Jerrald Gallion, 29, and A.J. Laguerre, 19, in August.

On Tuesday morning, a team of lawyers — including civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, as well as Michael Haggard and Adam Finkel — stood alongside family members of the three people killed that day, pleading for the gun violence to stop.

“These families have lost everything. And they are here so that this never happens again,” Crump said. “We have a gigantic gun violence problem in the United States of America, and these families right here have had enough.”

The gunman, 21-year-old Ryan Palmeter, had attempted to enter another store and the campus of a historically Black college, but he was stopped by the presence of security guards at both places, authorities said. Then he went to the Dollar General in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Jacksonville.

When Palmeter arrived at the store, Gallion was shopping, Laguerre was working, and Carr was waiting in a car in the parking lot for a customer she had brought there.

“I’m so tired of hearing, ‘Oh, you know he’s in a better place.’ No, I want him here,” said Quantavious Laguerre, tears streaming down his face as he talked about his brother. “People say cherish the memories that you have. No, I want to make more memories. He is my baby brother.”

He noted that his brother would not have applied for a job at Dollar General if he knew it was dangerous. “It’s not going to change unless we speak up,” he said.

Similarly, Armisha Payne, a daughter of Angela Carr, said her mother’s three children and 13 grandchildren are waiting for answers.

“She gave to everyone she knew. She was everyone’s mama, grandma, nanna,” she said.

Palmeter killed himself at the scene, leaving behind a screed that detailed why he targeted Black people, Crump and Jacksonville Sheriff’s officials said. The lawsuit also named Palmeter’s estate and his parents as defendants in the lawsuit.

Investigators have said Palmeter’s writings made clear that he hated Black people. During the attack, he texted his father and told him to break into his room and check his computer. There, the father found the note and the writings. The family notified authorities, but by then the shooting had already begun, detectives said.

Palmeter had been involved in a 2016 domestic violence incident that did not lead to an arrest and was involuntarily committed for a 72-hour mental health examination the following year.

Palmeter used two guns in the shooting, a Glock handgun and an AR-15-style rifle, according to authorities.

Crump noted that the shooting reminds him of similar incidents at the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, in 2022, as well as the fatal shootings of nine Black people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June 2015.

An email seeking comment from Dollar General’s corporate offices was not immediately returned.

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Families of 3 Black victims in fatal Florida Dollar General shooting plead for end to gun violence