An on-campus security guard at Edward Waters University, a historically black private Christian university, first encountered the man later identified as the shooter who opened fire at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida over the weekend, killing three people and turning the gun on himself.
Now the president of Edward Waters University is giving God the glory for leading the campus guard to prevent a school massacre.
He reports Lt. Antonio Bailey confronted the campus intruder after EWU students saw him putting on a “tactical armored vest” and gloves. When confronted, the gunman quickly fled in his vehicle and Lt. Bailey then pursued him in his car, trying to capture the license plate, until the gunman had fully left the campus.
Bailey immediately reported the incident to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and campus security placed the university on lockdown for several hours.
The university’s campus is located about three-quarters of a mile from Dollar General, according to First Coast News, which is where the eventual shooting took place.
As CBN News reported, authorities said the attack was racially motivated. The accused shooter intentionally sought out black people.
The shooter had authored several manifestos, one to his parents, one to the media, and one to federal agents. Portions of these manifestos detailed the shooter’s disgusting ideology of hate,” Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said during a press conference.
The university’s president, Dr. A. Zachary Faison Jr., on Monday, said the school is “utterly heartbroken” about the loss of lives that occurred not far from the campus, but “We at the same time are grateful and appreciative first to God” that EWU students’ lives were spared.
Dr. Faison quoted EWU’s board chairman who said, “No one but Jesus delivered EWU and African Methodism from another Emanuel Nine tragedy. And we are thankful to the Holy Spirit that led Lt. Bailey into the truth of where to be, when to be there, and what to do in a time of potential great trouble.”
In a video posted to the EWU Facebook page Sunday night, Dr. Faison Jr. addressed the EWU community directly about how the school intended to move forward following the tragedy.
“We are not dismayed, we are not intimidated,” Dr. Faison said. “The work we do at Edward Waters and the work we’ve been doing for a century and a half is a great work… and it’s a great work because it’s a God work.”
“We are going to continue this great work of educating young people, of uplifting our community, and making the change that we want to see in our state, our nation, and our world,” he noted.
“Despite what the devil meant for bad, that there will be good that will come out of this,” Faison Jr. said.
As CBN News has reported, after the news broke of the shooting, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis canceled a day of presidential campaign events to return to his home state to attend a vigil for the victims in Jacksonville.
DeSantis said on Monday the state would be announcing financial support for security at EWU, and to help the affected families.
“What he did is totally unacceptable in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “We are not going to let people be targeted based on their race.”
***Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***