Bethune Cookman University increases security after racially motivated Jacksonville shooting

3 people shot, killed at Jacksonville Dollar General on Kings Road

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Bethune Cookman University’s Director of Campus Safety Gary Price said his campus security team is beefing up patrols even more now after tragedy on Saturday near a historically Black university in Jacksonville.

“While we applaud their campus safety for their efforts, it also warns us that we should increase our efforts,” Price said.

Officials there said before Ryan Palmeter, a White man, shot three Black people in a racially motivated attack at a Dollar General Store, he was first spotted at the historically Black Edward Waters University less than a mile away.

Palmeter was asked to leave by a campus officer who thought he looked suspicious. It happened all before his shooting rampage where he shot two shoppers and an employee because of their race.

“We become more proactive, we have more foot patrol, more monitoring of the areas, the high-risk areas to ensure that threat doesn’t come here,” Price said.

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Governor Ron DeSantis addressed the topic during a Monday press conference on statewide storm preps.

“We are going to be able to do $1 million to Edward Waters College to increase security on campus. As I’ve said, we are not going to allow our HBCUs to be targeted by these people,” DeSantis said.

Price told News 6, “Any funding received, we would be good partners and stewards of that do still to help with infrastructure as well as a safe environment for our students, faculty and staff.”

Marcus Moon is a junior at BCU and said he feels safe on campus. He told News 6 he’s seen increased security during his time on campus, particularly after several HBCU’s across the country were targeted last year, including a bomb threat at BCU, made by a caller police say claimed to be affiliated with a neo-Nazi organization. Moon said he supports any additional funding to better address campus safety.

“That would really help and benefit and help this place be more secure more protected for the students,” Moon said.

BCU said safety and security on campus is the top priority and as always remindoo students if they something suspicious to report it immediately. The college released a statement on Monday that read:

“On behalf of the entire Bethune-Cookman University family, we extend our deepest condolences and send our prayers and support to the loved ones of those who were shot and killed at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville on Saturday.

As a university, we condemn the hateful and harmful act that was committed in such close proximity to Edward Waters University, a fellow HBCU. We applaud the campus security staff who refused the shooter entry to campus for their bravery and commitment to keeping the students, faculty and staff safe.

We want to take this time to remind everyone that the safety and security of our campus is our number one priority. Please always remain alert and immediately report any concerns or suspicious activity to the Department of Campus Safety at 386-481-2900.

To our students living in residence halls: Please make sure that doors are closed and always locked. Remember: No one is permitted to prop open a door for convenience of access.

Thank you in advance for everyone’s individual and collective compliance to keep our campus safe and secure.”

Bethune Cookman University

News 6 is going to keep asking the Governor’s office if there are plans to add more funding to other HBCU’s in Florida to address safety and we’ll let you know when we hear back.

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About the Author:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.