As Florida Governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis spoke at a prayer vigil on Sunday for the victims of the “racially motivated” mass shooting in Jacksonville that occurred the day prior, the crowd booed so loudly that a local official asked them to calm down.
Earlier in the day, DeSantis faced criticism on social media over the shooting where a masked white man fatally shot three Black people inside a Jacksonville Dollar General on Saturday. The suspect, later identified as 21-year-old Ryan Christopher Palmeter, shot and killed himself at the scene.
The victims were later identified as 52-year-old Angela Michelle Carr, 19-year-old Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr. and 29-year-old Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion.
Investigators discovered three manifestos allegedly written by the suspect, which contained “the shooter’s disgusting ideology of hate,” Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) Sheriff T.K. Waters said.
“Plainly put the shooting was racially motivated, and he hated black people,” Waters said.
The FBI is investigating the shooting as a hate crime, Sherri Onks, special agent in charge of the bureau’s Jacksonville office said.
Newsweek reached out via email to DeSantis’s representatives for comment.
DeSantis, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, came under scrutiny over the shooting, with critics pointing to a bill signed into law by the governor that allows people to carry concealed weapons without a government permit that came into effect on July 1. They also accused him of fueling hate with laws and policies targeting the teaching of Black history in the state.
Eric Spracklen posted a video to X, formerly Twitter, of DeSantis being heckled by the crowd at the vigil on Sunday.
“DeSantis showed up to Jacksonville and immediately got booed by everyone in attendance,” Spracklen wrote in the post.
Vigil attendees caused so much ruckus as the governor was speaking that Jacksonville Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman had to ask the crowd to let DeSantis talk, urging them to “put parties aside.”
Newsweek reached out via email on Sunday to Pittman and her assistant for comment.
Photos and videos posted to social media of the vigil show a massive crowd gathered to remember the victims of the hate crime. The City of Jacksonville’s official account on X, formerly Twitter, shared just after 7 p.m. that the vigil had ended and called for the hatred to cease.
“A prayer vigil for the victims of the mass shooting at the Dollar General has just completed. Angela Michelle Carr. Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr. Jerrald Gallion,” the city posted on X with photos from the vigil. “Remember their names and hold their families close to your heart. No more hate. No more division.”
Shortly after 5 p.m. ET, DeSantis shared a video and statement to X condemning the shooting and referring to the gunman as a “deranged scumbag.”
“@CaseyDeSantis and I stand with the families impacted by the tragic shooting in Jacksonville,” the governor posted. “The people of Florida stand united in condemning the horrific, racially-motivated murders. Our family is praying for the victims, their families and the student body of Edward Waters University.”
Update 8/27/2023 7:30 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.