DeSantis booed at vigil for Florida shooting victims


Hundreds of people have gathered at prayer vigils and in church after three Black people were killed in a racist attack in Florida.

The shooter, Ryan Christopher Palmeter, was a white, 21-year-old man who authorities say left behind white supremacist ramblings.

About 200 people showed up at a Sunday evening vigil a block from the Dollar General store in Jacksonville where officials said Palmeter opened fire on Saturday using guns he bought legally.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis — who is running for the Republican nomination for president, has loosened gun laws in Florida and has antagonised civil rights leaders by deriding "wokeness " — was loudly booed as he addressed the vigil.

Ju'Coby Pittman, a Jacksonville city councilwoman who represents the neighbourhood where the shooting happened, stepped in to ask the crowd to listen.

"It ain't about parties today," she said. "A bullet don't know a party."

DeSantis said that on Monday the state would be announcing financial support for security at Edward Waters University, the historically Black college near where the shooting occurred, and to help the affected families.

He called the gunman a "major league scumbag".

"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."

Those killed were Angela Michelle Carr, 52, who was shot in her car; store employee AJ Laguerre, 19, who was shot as he tried to flee; and customer Jerrald Gallion, 29, who was shot as he entered the store in a predominantly Black neighbourhood.

The latest in a long history of US racist killings unfolded early Saturday afternoon after Palmeter first parked at Edward Waters University.

Wearing a tactical vest and a mask, Palmeter used a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun in the shooting, police said. He had legally purchased the guns in recent months even though he had been involuntarily committed for a mental health examination in 2017.

Because Palmeter was released after the examination, that would not have shown up on his background checks.

Palmeter killed himself as police arrived, about 11 minutes after the shooting began.

US President Joe Biden said white supremacy has no place in America.

"We must refuse to live in a country where Black families going to the store or Black students going to school live in fear of being gunned down because of the colour of their skin," he said in a statement on Sunday.

Past shootings targeting Black Americans include one at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket in 2022 and a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.

The Buffalo shooting, which killed 10 people, stands apart as one of the deadliest targeted attacks on Black people by a lone white gunman in US history. The shooter was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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