Racist Jacksonville shooter wore Rhodesian army patch, a symbol of white supremacy

NBCNews - The white gunman who killed three Black people at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida, over the weekend wore a Rhodesian army patch on his tactical vest, law enforcement sources say, a reference that has been used before during white supremacist attacks.

The patch — representing Rhodesia, a former white minority-ruled territory in southern Africa in the 1960s and ’70s that would become Zimbabwe — is yet another symbol of how the shooter, Ryan Palmeter, was racist and was influenced by racist ideology, investigators say.

Further details also emerged Monday about his struggles with his mental health and a domestic disturbance that required law enforcement intervention.

“This shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people,” Sheriff T.K. Waters told reporters Saturday.

The victims were identified as: Angela Michelle Carr, 52, an Uber driver who was dropping off a passenger at the Dollar General; Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, 29; and Anolt Joseph “A.J.” Laguerre Jr., 19, an employee at the store.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said it had no additional comments when asked about the Rhodesian army patch.

An admitted white supremacist who was convicted in the 2015 shooting of nine worshippers at a historically Black church in Charleston, South Carolina, appeared in an online image wearing a jacket with two patches: the green-and-white flag of Rhodesia and the flag of apartheid-era South Africa. He remains on federal death row.

Rhodesia’s white military had been locked in conflict with the Black population before the territory was dissolved into what is now Zimbabwe.

Rhodesia also became a reference for white lawmakers in the South who sought to uphold segregationist Jim Crow-era policies, and it continues to embolden white nationalists in the U.S., said Gerald Horne, the author of “From the Barrel of a Gun: The United States and the War Against Zimbabwe.”

“They would like to see the clock turned back to the days of yore,” said Horne, a professor of history and African American studies at the University of Houston. 

“Oftentimes, what you find with some of these white supremacists, these lone wolves, as they’re called, these vigilantes, they adhere to an idea that a single spark can start a prairie fire,” Horne said. “They feel that their actions will lead to a larger conflagration and that will lead to their demented dreams’ coming true.”

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