Jacksonville leaders respond to FSU shooting

Sheriff, State Attorney, both FSU graduates, commend quick reaction of police


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville city leaders hosted a forum about juvenile justice policy Thursday night to discuss crime trends -- but the topic on most people's minds was the shooting on the FSU campus that left a gunman dead and three others injured.

Sheriff John Rutherford, an FSU alumnus, couldn't help but speak on ways to prevent such tragic events.

"I believe that a lot of this goes back to the strength of the family and the situation the individual is raised in," Rutherford said. "I tell folks we don't have gun crime -- we have human violence crime."

Rutherford said the undersheriff's daughter attends FSU, and he said the main thing he listened for Thursday was the quick and immediate communication between campus and local police. He said it was their actions and response that prevented the incident from being much worse.

He also said it's more important than ever to have a plan in place for handling emergencies, no matter where you are or where you go. 


"Well, listen, it can happen anywhere and that's why people have to be prepared and have plans," Rutherford said. "That's why the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, we train our officers regularly and in what we call active shooters where you have someone who goes into a large occupied area like a university or a workplace and begins to shoot people. We train for that and so it looks like in Tallahassee that training paid off. They got it (contained) quickly, stopped quickly, and so my hat's off to Sheriff Cambell, but you always have to be aware of your surroundings."

State Attorney Angela Corey, who's also an FSU graduate, helped lead Thursday's forum and said she's praying for the shooting victims and their families.

"We're all horrified, of course. FSU was my alma mater -- those were my happiest years," Corey said. "And the thought of students being there, studying and socializing and to have a shooter come in like that is just horrible."

Corey said she puts incidents like these in the hand of God and said she's thankful Florida's law enforcement will take measures to protect all college students.

Over the past two years, there have been incidents at five Florida colleges and Corey said that's a disturbing trend.

"It's also one of the reasons we're so tough on gun crimes and why our 10-20-Life laws are so important," Corey said. "Because someone who has the propensity to hurt others with a gun is so dangerous and so hard to defend against that we really take it very seriously."

The four previous incidents over the last two years ranged from South to Central Florida.

In November 2012, a man put a small handgun to a victim's head at Florida Atlantic University and then fled.

A female student at Indian River State College was shot and injured as a gunman and police traded fire in February 2013.

In March 2013, a University of Central Florida student planned to massacre his fellow students after ordering more than $700 worth of weapons. He was stopped before the attack.

In January 2014, an Eastern Florida State College student shot another student during a physical fight.