Florida Governor Ron DeSantis faced backlash and a resounding chorus of boos during a vigil held to honor the victims of a racially motivated shooting. The incident occurred in Jacksonville, where hundreds had gathered on Sunday to commemorate the three individuals who lost their lives in the attack.
DeSantis was compelled to step away from the microphone, yielding the floor to a member of the city council, Ju’Coby Pittman, who urged the crowd to set aside political divisions. Pittman stressed that in the face of tragedy, party affiliations should be irrelevant, as bullets do not discriminate based on political beliefs.
Subsequently, Mr. DeSantis, a 44-year-old Republican presidential candidate known for his relaxation of gun regulations in the state and his confrontations with civil rights advocates over what he terms “woke ideology,” eventually addressed the gathering. During his speech, he denounced the shooter as a “scumbag,” which elicited applause from a portion of the attendees.
Approximately 200 individuals attended the vigil, which occurred in a predominantly black neighborhood just a short distance from the Dollar General store where the shooting occurred the day before.
The assailant, 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter, fired eleven shots at 52-year-old Angela Carr, who was sitting in her vehicle, before entering the store and fatally shooting two more people. Among the victims was 19-year-old Anolt Laguerre Jr., an employee of Dollar General, who was killed while attempting to escape. Additionally, 29-year-old Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion was fatally shot upon entering the premises, while another woman narrowly escaped pursuit.
As law enforcement arrived on the scene, the assailant turned the weapon on himself and died on-site. The shooting involved legally obtained firearms, including an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle and a Glock handgun.
The police have indicated that the shooter’s actions were driven by deep-seated racist animosity.
Sheriff T K Waters, addressing reporters, asserted, “He was fully aware of his actions. There’s no doubt: this shooting was unequivocally motivated by racial hatred, specifically directed towards black individuals.”
According to law enforcement, the assailant left behind a series of racist messages that were described as resembling “the ramblings of an unhinged individual.”
In 2017, the gunman was subject to a 72-hour detainment under mental health legislation, which allows for the involuntary confinement of an individual for treatment purposes. Following the evaluation, as police explained, he was released, and this is why this previous incident did not surface during his background checks when he acquired the firearms.