Florida Dollar General reopens months after the racially motivated killing of 3 Black people

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Florida Dollar General reopens months after the racially motivated killing of 3 Black people

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Dollar General store where three Black people were killed during a racially motivated shooting last summer reopened Friday morning in a northeast Florida community where it is among only a few stores selling fresh food to nearby residents.

Nearly five months after the Aug. 26 shooting, memorials dedicated to victims Jerrald Gallion, Anolt “A.J.” Laguerre Jr. and Angela Carr remained outside the New Town Dollar General store in Jacksonville, still decorated with photos, flowers and stuffed animals.

At the store’s entrance, the company installed a permanent plaque that says “#JacksonvilleStrong,” the Florida Times-Union reported.

People walk past the Dollar General store where three people were shot and killed the day before  in Jacksonville, Fla. on Aug. 27, 2023.  Police say that the attack by a gunman on Black customers at the store that killed three is being investigated as a hate crime.
People walk past the Dollar General store where three people were shot and killed the day before in Jacksonville, Fla. on Aug. 27, 2023. Police say that the attack by a gunman on Black customers at the store that killed three is being investigated as a hate crime.Sean Rayford / Getty Images

“It was important to take the necessary time to listen to and evaluate feedback from employees and the community, which informed not only the store’s upgrades but also our efforts to reopen the store in a respectful and thoughtful manner,” Julie Martin, Dollar General divisional vice president of store operations, told Jacksonville television station WJXT during a tour of the store on Thursday.

The store sported a new look, which was the result of consultations with community members and local officials. The store now offers customers a wider variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, pre-made salads, frozen vegetables, cold cuts and milk.

The reopening has put the victims’ family “through their own individual emotional torment,” said South Florida attorney Adam Finkel, who represents the victims’ estates and some family members. They filed a lawsuit against the company late last year over lax security at the store.

“This was the site of a horrible mass shooting that should have never happened,” Finkel told The Associated Press.

“If the store was going to be open, and a lot of people including the families and those in the community don’t want it to reopen, then it should at least reopen in a safe manner,” Finkel said.

He said the lack of security at the store was a reason behind the tragedy, and he questions whether appropriate security measures will be in place at the newly opened store. The lawsuit filed in December cites a rash of shootings, assaults, burglaries, robberies and drug dealing in the neighborhood around the store.

The AP inquired about security measures at the newly opened store, but that was not addressed in the news release Dollar General provided in response. The company noted that it had provided $2.5 million to multiple charities and agencies in the Jacksonville area since the shooting.

On Aug. 26, a gunman fatally shot Carr as she sat in her vehicle outside the store. He then went inside and shot Gallion and Laguerre Jr.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said the gunman texted his father during the attack and told him to break into his room and check his computer. There, the father found a suicide note, a will and racist writings from his son. The family notified authorities, but by then the shooting had already begun. Officials say there were writings to his family, federal law enforcement and at least one media outlet, which made it clear that he hated Black people.

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