Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis confronted a heckler during a press conference on Thursday, emphatically rejecting any responsibility for the recent Jacksonville shooting. The heated exchange ignited a social media firestorm.
Responding to the heckler’s attempt to connect him to the Jacksonville shooting, DeSantis asserted, “Excuse me. I’m not going to let you accuse me of committing criminal activity.” He continued to assert his innocence, stating, “I am not going to take that,” while addressing the audience at Culhane’s Irish Pub in Jacksonville, as reported by Fox News.
“You want to have a civil conversation, that’s one thing,” DeSantis, a GOP presidential contender, said. “To try to say that I’m letting … that guy was Baker Acted. He should have been ruled ineligible, but they didn’t involuntarily commit him.”
The alleged Jacksonville shooter, responsible for the deaths of three individuals in a suspected racially motivated attack targeting Black individuals last month, had a previous encounter with the law in 2017 when he was briefly held under the state’s Baker Act. This act allows for the involuntary detention and examination of an individual age 18 years or older during a mental health crisis.
According to Fox News, during the contentious exchange with the heckler, DeSantis vehemently rejected any connection to the shooter’s actions. He stressed, “No, no, there is the truth. There is something about the truth. Everyone doesn’t have their own truth. No. You don’t get to come here and blame me for some madman. That is not appropriate, and I’m not going to accept it.
“We’ve done more to support law enforcement in this state than anybody throughout the United States,” DeSantis added. “Our crime rate in Florida is at a 50-year low. We have enacted policies that have allowed people to live in safety.
“The notion that somehow we’re not supportive of safety is absurd,” DeSantis continued. In response, the crowd rose to its feet, offering a resounding applause.
Jim Thomas ✉
Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.
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