Before horrifically shooting up a Dollar General store, Ryan Palmeter took a visit to Edward Waters University (EWU), an HBCU in the Jacksonville area. While we don’t know why he was there, we thankfully never got to find out thanks to a campus officer who ran the shooter off campus.
During a press conference on Monday, Lt. Antonio Bailey recalled the events that led to his encounter with the shooter and how he was able to deter him from the HBCU campus.
Bailey, who was having a “normal” day canvasing the campus grounds on Saturday, was alerted by a car full of students who pulled up beside his vehicle. They told him about a white man whom they saw in the staff parking lot, according to NBC News.
That man turned out to be 21-year-old Palmeter, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, gloves, and a mask.
In response, Bailey immediately approached the mystery man who was scaring students away from the area. When Palmneter saw Bailey, who was in his campus security uniform, he drove off in his vehicle instantly, jumping a curb in the process and eventually leaving the campus grounds.
Hailed as a “hero” by school president A. Zachery Faison Jr., Bailey’s job did not end after Palmeter drove off campus. He continued to follow him down a few blocks to ensure that he was far away from campus.
But after a while, he had to go back to EWU since protocols don’t allow him to follow a potential suspect past a certain distance, according to NBC News.
After following the vehicle, he notified local authorities and shared his license plate information with them. Shortly after, Palmeter fatally shot three innocent Black people at a Dollar General that was just down the street from the University.
While Jacksonville Sheriff T. K. Water shared during a press conference that Palmeter was probably on the EWU campus to simply change his clothes, it’s a blessing that Bailey was able to avert any potential tragedy that could’ve happened.
School shootings have also become the norm in this country, and while he was unable to save the lives of three innocent Black bodies, it’s also a good thing that he kept hundreds of students on campus safe from a racist shooter who had his eye on killing people who did not look like him.