Family of Jacksonville shooting victim say they don’t want call from Biden

Three people were killed in a racially motivated shooting over the weekend

Ariana Baio
Monday 28 August 2023 22:16 BST
Gunman kills three people in ‘racially motivated’ shooting in Florida, sheriff says

President Joe Biden told reporters on Monday that he has not contacted the families of the Jacksonville shooting victims yet adding that one family said they did not want Mr Biden to contact them.

Over the weekend, three Black people were killed in a racially motivated shooting that took place at a Dollar General store in Florida – on the same day as the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Mr Biden addressed the shooting saying the US “can’t let hate prevail” and there is more work to be done to prevent hateful acts.

“We’re not going to remain silent. So we have to act against this hate-fuelled violence,” Mr Biden said. “We have to speak out. There is a whole group of extreme people trying to erase history.”

The president said he spoke with leaders in Jacksonville and the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, about the shooting and asked if it was appropriate for him to speak to the families of victims.

Mr Biden said he had not reached out to victims’ families just yet, adding that one family declined to speak with him.

“Two of [the families] are prepared to be contacted, one does not want to be contacted,” Mr Biden said.

“I’m just letting things settle because everyone deals with profound loss in a different way and it’s important – know from experience, it’s important to try and do it in a way that is most helpful and eases the anxiety the most so I haven’t spoken to them yet,” he added.

Anolt "AJ" Laguerre Jr, 19, Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, 29, and Angela Michelle Carr, 52, were all killed in the tragedy after a white gunman opened fire in front of and inside the store with the intention of killing Black people.

According to the authorities, the shooter left behind manifestos and writings where he explicitly stated his hatred of Black people and shared white supremacist ideology. The AR-15-style rifle the gunman used also had swastikas drawn on it.

Mr Biden condemned the shooter’s actions in a statement released shortly after the incident saying “white supremacy has no place in America. We must refuse to live in a country where Black families going to the store of Black students going to school live in fear of being gunned down because of the color of their skin.”

Vice president Kamala Harris echoed Mr Biden’s statement in her own tweet by condemning the hate-fuelled acts and calling for a ban on assault rifles.

Mr Biden and Ms Harris met with Reverand Al Sharpton and other organisers of the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington to discuss what the US can do moving forward to prevent hate.

Mr Biden said the best way to combat it was “talking directly to the American people.”

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