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Jacksonville Mayor, Governor, local Leaders attend vigil near site of ‘racially motivated’ shooting

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis joined local officials and community members at a vigil held to honor the three people who lost their lives in the tragic mass shooting in Jacksonville yesterday. Family members of the victims were also present at the event.

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The vigil was held near the Dollar General store where Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said a lone, white gunman from Clay County, shot and killed three Black people in a “racially motivated” attack. 

The victims were identified as 52-year-old Angela Michelle Carr, 29-year-old Jerrald De’Shawn Gallion, and 19-year-old Anolt Joseph Laguerre Jr.

The shooting happened in the New Town community of Jacksonville, which is represented by Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman. Pittman organized the vigil and said, “Today is about showing up for these residents who did not deserve what happened.”

Pittman asked the community to pull together to raise $100,000 for the victims’ families to help with funeral expenses and mental health support. Pittman said donations can be made through the Jacksonville Firefighters Association website at www.jfrd.com.

Pittman also went on to discuss the challenges her district has faced and said residents there have been underserved in terms of funding and resources. Pittman said there will be a town hall meeting on August 31 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Legends Center to discuss community concerns and needs.

Pittman addressed it was time for action adding, “We don’t need no more studies.” Pittman also said she plans to meet with local faith leaders to work toward solutions.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was also in attendance and spoke at the shooting vigil.

Some in the crowd reportedly booed Gov. DeSantis as he approached the podium and attempted to speak. Councilwoman Pittman interrupted and asked the crowd to put parties aside and let the governor speak. After a moment, Gov. DeSantis continued to speak to those in attendance, stating he had been in touch with the president of Jacksonville’s HBCU, Edward Waters University.

Just before the shooting, police said the gunman went to the Edward Waters campus to change into a tactical vest before being confronted by campus security who escorted him off campus and flagged down a JSO officer to report the suspicious man.

During his remarks tonight, Gov. DeSantis stated, “The fact of the matter is you had a major league scumbag come from Clay County up here and what he did was totally unacceptable in the state of Florida.” Some people in the crowd yelled, “He was a racist!” referring to the shooter. Others applauded the governor’s comments.

Gov. DeSantis also said, “We are not going to let people be targeted based on their race. We are going to stand up and we are going to do what we need to do to make sure evil doesn’t triumph in the state of Florida.” 

Governor DeSantis said state funds have been identified to help increase security at Edward Waters University as well as the victims’ families. The governor said HBCUs in Florida will not be targeted.

READ: Gov. DeSantis statement on the Jacksonville Dollar General Mass Shooting

Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan also spoke at the vigil.

Deegan said, “We have to do everything that we can in this community to bring unity to our city. No more division. No more hate. We cannot tolerate hate against our Black community. We simply cannot and will not tolerate it.” 

Yesterday, Mayor Deegan, along with other city and state leaders, spent hours at the scene in the aftermath of the shooting.

During tonight’s vigil, Deegan said, “This beautiful mosaic of a city that we have is our greatest strength.” Deegan continued, “I promise you I will stand with you and we will do whatever we need to do to protect you, but not only to protect you—but to build the unity we need in this city that protects all of us and gives all of us the quality of life that each and every one of us, regardless of the color of our skin, or our religion or our culture or whatever it is deserve.”

There are additional events to honor the victims. Jacksonville Community Action Committee is hosting a rally on Monday, August 28 at 6:00 p.m. at James Weldon Johnson Park. In a statement on its Facebook page, the organization invited the community to come out to “remember the victims, stand against hate, call for an end to white supremacy, and stand strong as a community.”

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