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Ohio Walmart shooter may have been at least partially inspired by racially motivated violent extremist ideology, FBI says

The man who shot four people at an Ohio Walmart before taking his own life this week may have been at least partially inspired by racially motivated violent extremist ideology, the FBI said Wednesday, citing what it says were the shooter’s journal writings and other evidence.

Benjamin Charles Jones, 20, entered the store in Beavercreek, about 10 miles east of Dayton, around 8:35 p.m. on Monday and shot a man and three women, said Capt. Chad Lindsey, acting Beavercreek Police Department chief, during a Tuesday news conference.

Two of the wounded women are Black, and the other woman and the wounded man are White, the FBI said Wednesday in a news release.

“Based on evidence collected, including journal writings from the attacker … the attack may have been at least partially inspired by racially motivated violent extremist ideology,” the FBI’s news release reads. “The FBI will continue to investigate the motivating factors leading to this attack.”

Jones also had two Nazi flags at his home, CNN affiliate WHIO reported Thursday. Investigators found “the SS history book,” a shooting complex card, handwritten notes, a laptop and an external hard drive, according to WHIO.

Fairborn police said they were called to Jones’ home in April and May 2022 and Jones told officers he was suicidal.

“Both times Jones was ‘pink-slipped’ and taken to Soin Medical Center,” police said, according to the Dayton Daily News. Pink slips are generally used to involuntarily admit patients to hospitals.

People “committed to any mental institution” are not allowed to have a firearm, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

CNN has reached out to Fairborn and Beavercreek police for more information.

Jones used a Hi-Point .45 caliber carbine with a nine-round magazine in the shooting, the FBI said.

“The weapon was purchased on November 18, 2023, from a store in the Dayton area,” the FBI said. “Investigators are continuing to look at the background of the subject to determine if any of his answers on the ATF Form 4473 were inaccurate.”

“This investigation remains very active as the FBI thoroughly examines the attacker’s background, motive, connections, and online activity,” the FBI added.

How authorities say the shooting unfolded

Witnesses saw Jones, of Dayton, holding a rifle and then walking through the store, appearing to shoot indiscriminately at patrons, Lindsey said Tuesday.

“No shots were fired by any responding police officers,” police said in a social media post.

The victims were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment, Capt. Scott Molnar said in a news briefing on Monday.

Two victims have since been released and the other two are hospitalized in stable condition, Beavercreek police said November 27.

The gunshot injuries sustained by the victims appeared to be “largely random,” Lindsey said, and the wounds were “throughout all different parts of the body.”

Police did not release any additional information about the victims but noted details about their backgrounds or races were considered part of an investigation into a possible motive behind the attack.

It’s at least the second deadly shooting at the same store where, nearly 10 years ago, police shot and killed a Black man who was holding an air rifle he had found on a store shelf that was not in its packaging. The killing sparked outrage and calls for reform.

Police responded to the scene this week within three minutes of receiving the first 911 call about the shooter, Lindsey said on Tuesday when he broke down the agency’s response to the shooting and shared footage from a responding officer’s body-worn camera.

Roughly seven minutes after the first call, officers found the shooter on the ground toward the store’s front entrance with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, he said. Police secured and cleared the building less than an hour after arriving on scene, according to Lindsey.

Monday night’s violence adds to a long list of shootings that have turned commonplace events and settings across the country – retail stores, schools, bowling alleys and birthday parties – into crime scenes.

At least 614 mass shootings have been reported in the United States this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as one in which four or more people are shot, not including the shooter.

A gunman nearly a year ago killed six people at another Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia. Since then, thousands of people have been killed by gun violence in the US, according to the archive. Many simply found themselves in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Walmart will offer emergency support to affected associates and set up an offsite resource center offering counseling, the company said in a statement.

“With details of Monday night’s shooting at our Beavercreek store still coming to light, we’re focused on providing our associates with the attention and support needed to cope with this tragedy,” the statement read.

No decision has been made on when the store will reopen, the company said.

The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations, were all investigating the shooting Monday night.

Students at nearby Wright State University shop at the store, they told CNN affiliate WKEF.

“It’s crazy thinking that we’re literally less than five minutes away where we live. They could have went to a campus and not a Walmart, and it could have been us,” Wright State University student Kailie Conley told WKEF.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Michelle Watson, Zenebou Sylla, Maria Sole Campinoti, Amanda Jackson, Lauren Mascarenhas and Nicki Brown contributed to this report.

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