Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was booed by attendees at a Jacksonville vigil for three people shot and killed by a white supremacist gunman on Saturday.
“Your policies caused this!” one member of the crowd shouted.
Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman was forced to step in and address the crowd’s jeers. “It ain’t about parties today,” she said. “A bullet don’t know a party.”
On Saturday, a shooter identified as 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter killed three people at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville. Angela Michelle Carr, 52; Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr., 19; and Jerrald Gallion, 29, were identified as the victims. Palmeter died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
Before driving to the store, Palmeter first attempted to enter the Edward Waters University campus, a historically Black institution, before being turned away.
Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters said in a press conference Saturday that the shooter had left behind several manifestos aimed at his parents, the media, and law enforcement. “Portions of these manifestos detailed the shooter’s disgusting ideology of hate,” Waters said. “Plainly put, this shooting was racially motivated, and he hated Black people.”
In a video statement released Saturday, DeSantis called the shooter a “scumbag,” and said race-based violence was “totally unacceptable.”
“We send our condolences to the victims and their families, who were the victims of a very cowardly act,” he added.
Authorities stated that Palmeter had purchased the handgun and AR-15-style rifle used in the shooting legally in June. In April of this year, DeSantis signed a law allowing the concealed carrying of handguns without a permit.
Florida state Rep. Angie Nixon, a Democrat who represents the Jacksonville area, accused DeSantis of having “blood on his hands,” during a Sunday interview with MSNBC.
“He has had an attack, an all-out attack on the Black community with his anti-woke policies, which we know very well was nothing more than a dog whistle to get folks up and riled up in the way in which it just happened yesterday. As I listened to him for the first time with that statement, my blood is literally boiling,” she said.
“Myself and other representatives, particularly Black representatives, throughout the past few legislative sessions, we have repeatedly told him what his rhetoric was going to do. And that is exactly what transpired on yesterday,” Nixon added.
Congressman Maxwell Frost (D-Fla.), himself a survivor of a 2016 shooting at a Halloween parade in Orlando, Florida, called for DeSantis to convene a special legislative session on gun violence prevention in the state. “It’s the same ask I’ve had for the governor for years, and it’s to actually take action on gun violence prevention,” Frost said.
“He also needs actual steps to move away and stop championing, and stop embracing, this far right-wing movement that is the home of the shooter,” Frost added.