HBCU Campus Officer Who Confronted Dollar General Gunman Doesn’t Thinks He’s A Hero
The racially motivated tragedy at a Jacksonville, Florida, Dollar General almost started at an HBCU.
Before killing three innocent Black people at the store on Aug. 26, shooter Ryan Palmeter headed to Edward Waters University, an HBCU, to commit his crimes. However, that didn’t happen, thanks to campus officer Lt. Antonio Bailey, NBC News reports.
Bailey said the campus was normal until a car full of students approached him, saying they were concerned about a white man seen in the faculty and staff parking lot. The students saw Palmeter wearing a bulletproof vest, gloves, and a mask. During a press conference, Bailey says he didn’t hesitate and approached the shooter.
“What are you doing here? Something’s wrong,” Bailey said he recalled thinking. As Palmeter saw Bailey, he sped off, jumping a curb, and left the campus “at a high rate of speed.”
Edward Waters President A. Zachery Faison Jr. called Bailey a “hero” for saving nearly 1,200 students on campus, but the officer said he doesn’t look at it that way.
“I’m no hero,” Bailey said. “If anything, it’s the students who alerted me so I could do my job.”
Bailey, who has worked for the school for 18 months, immediately alerted a Jacksonville sheriff and gave Palmeter’s license plate. Unfortunately, Bailey learned about the Dollar General shootings shortly after that. Alerting the authorities is following campus protocol, which restricts Bailey from following a suspect to a certain point, but he wishes he could’ve done more.
“We have outstanding protocols,” he said. “But I wish I had more authority to detain and pursue.”
The gunman was specifically targeting Black people, according to CNN. Jacksonville Sheriff T. K. Waters said Palmeter used racial slurs and left behind letters to his parents, the media, and federal agents describing his “disgusting ideology of hate.”
“This shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people,” Waters said during a press conference.
Faison said the students are having a hard time coping with what could have happened on campus and the shooting that occurred just blocks away.
“There’s a high level of apprehension,” he said. However, the school is providing counseling to those in need.
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