The President of a historically Black college located in Jacksonville has expressed his belief that a group of students and a security officer played a crucial role in thwarting a potential campus massacre. The alleged perpetrator of the massacre is the same individual accused of carrying out a racially motivated attack at a nearby Dollar General store, resulting in the deaths of three individuals.
Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr., who leads Edward Waters University, commended Lt. Antonio Bailey, the security officer, for his actions in confronting and driving away the alleged gunman from the campus. Lt. Bailey’s prompt response was triggered by students who informed him about an “unwelcomed and unauthorized intruder on our campus.” Dr. Faison underlined the significance of Lt. Bailey’s intervention, given the subsequent chain of events that saw the same individual perpetrate a heartless mass shooting, claiming the lives of three innocent members of the nearby community.
Despite being hailed as a hero, Lt. Bailey deflected the accolades, attributing the success of his intervention to the students who took immediate action in alerting him about the suspicious intruder. Lt. Bailey praised their adherence to the principle of “see something, say something,” which facilitated his rapid response.
Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters confirmed that the alleged shooter, identified as 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter, had visited Edward Waters University just before the deadly rampage at the Dollar General store. The evidence suggested that Palmeter’s purpose for visiting the campus was to equip himself with a bulletproof vest before executing the attack at the store. However, Dr. Faison held a differing viewpoint, suspecting that the university itself might have been the initial target due to its historical significance as a Black Christian college.
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According to Dr. Faison, the suspect’s written materials, discovered by the police following the massacre, unveiled disturbing intentions to target Black individuals. The university’s status as Florida’s first historically Black college and university (HBCU) did not go unnoticed, leading Dr. Faison to speculate that the shooter deliberately selected this location to carry out his violent plans.
The timeline outlined by the sheriff indicated that the suspect was observed on the campus premises, captured on video as he donned a bulletproof vest. Lt. Bailey, an experienced former police and corrections officer, recounted how students drew his attention to the suspicious individual who was in the process of equipping himself with protective gear. Lt. Bailey approached the suspect’s vehicle and established visual contact, prompting the suspect to hastily flee the scene.
Lt. Bailey initiated a pursuit, recording the license plate number and the direction in which the suspect was headed. This information proved pivotal, aiding in the suspect’s identification when shared with law enforcement. Subsequently, the suspect embarked on a shooting spree at the Dollar General store, claiming the lives of three individuals, before ultimately ending his own life.
Both Dr. Faison and Lt. Bailey expressed profound sadness over the tragic sequence of events and the loss of lives. Dr. Faison commended Lt. Bailey and the students for their contributions in potentially averting a disaster on campus. However, Lt. Bailey remained modest, attributing his ability to respond effectively to the vigilance and alertness displayed by the students.
In conclusion, the President of Edward Waters University and Lt. Antonio Bailey, the security officer, emerged as pivotal figures in preventing a possible catastrophe following a racially motivated attack near the campus. Their actions underscored the significance of community vigilance and swift response in the face of danger.