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Mayor vows to work with sheriff, community leaders to rid city of gangs

Community reacts to deadly shooting during high school football game

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – City leaders expressed outrage and determination to stop the violence, after the shooting that left one dead and two wounded Friday night during a high school football game in Jacksonville.

Many are still in shock and reaction has been pouring in from the community. While Jacksonville police have not said what triggered the deadly violence, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry blames gangs.

Curry's tweet came after Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis tweeted: "Football is Family.....in San Marco. Where are you Mayor ⁦‪@lennycurry‬⁩? Oh yeah, it’s game day. It’s not feeling like #1City1Jax."

"I truly believe that there is a hopelessness in direction from our youth and we are going to continue seeing this over and over and over and over again unless we implement some effective prevention and intervention policies," Garrett said.

City Councilwoman Anna Lopez Brosche said, "It’s just a really sad day in Jacksonville and quite frankly ,we have had a lot of sad days in Jacksonville."   

"I’m very much concerned about our community and especially our children losing their lives. I can just imagine what the parents are going through. Our hearts are broken, with this kind of tragedy as it has taken place in our city, so we are here to stand against violence in our city because we are here and we are fighting against crime," said Pastor Thomas, with the Disciples of Christian Fellowship.

Joseph Jack raised two boys in the community and said he's outraged by the violence. 

"Everybody is out here struggling. It’s not me against you, it has to be us working together as a community, as a nation, as the world. If we don’t, it is like the famous quote if we don’t live together as brothers, we will die together as fools," Jack said.

Duval County school Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene attended the game along with an estimated 4,000 people.  

"We left. It was a great game and for it to end in violence like this is unfortunate and quite frankly unacceptable," said Greene. She adds they expected a large crowd and took security measures.

"We had more than two dozen Duval County public school officers as well as Jacksonville Sheriff's officers securing our football games, and actually it's the normal process. In addition, we were wanding everyone that came into the game, so our security procedures were in place. The incident happened after the game was over, and outside of that area where we would wand individuals," Greene said.

Greene called a special meeting Saturday to address the deadly shooting and safety in and around all High School football games as well as ways to reduce violence. There will be counselors at Raines and Lee High Schools all next week as well as increased security.

The Duval County School Board is planning a news conference on Monday on plans that will be taken at future games or events to deter potential incidents of violence.

"We did implement new procedures which we are not going to disclose for safety measures," School Board Chairwoman Paula Wright said. "But having 57 law enforcement officers present for a game that would bring about 4,000 students is not unusual. The participants were safe, secure. This happened outside of the school. Still on school property. That is why we have to engage our community. There is an issue. One of the issues I see – how are our children, 18-19 year-olds, getting access to guns. It’s an access to guns issue and it’s also a mindset."

Pastor Robert LaCoun of the Disciples of Christian Fellowship plans an anti-violence rally.

"We're going to join together. We're going to find some way to come together so we let this community know that we want the senseless killing to stop. We going to showcase their talent and let them know we can use their talent and not their guns that could help them advance in life. There's other ways that they can advance in life," LaCount said. "We're going to tell them, when their temperament, get high, take a drink of that cool water and chill out. They got to bring that temperament down so that they won't be so quick to react, and then think about it before they commit violent crime."

Duval County school board chair Paula Wright said, "Our hearts are filled this morning for the death of this young man. We offer condolences." 

She said they are planning to review procedures and security measures but stressed that the shooting happened outside the field on a sidewalk area and this is a community problem.

Reactions have been coming from several local leaders and dignitaries.

Former Mayor Alvin Brown, who is running for Congress, tweeted, "We must work together to #EndGunViolence, especially in our schools. We need to provide better opportunities, so our children don’t go down a path of violence.

Brown said it's going to take the entire city to make a difference and improve the quality of life for everyone and he believes part of the solution starts at home. 

Florida HSFootball.com tweeted: "Senseless shooting after the Lee-Raines game tonight. No reason for this what so ever. Now someone is dead and two more are hurt. Marks the second week in Florida shooting has been involved with a high school game. No need for this. Just sad. Thoughts and prayers to the victims."

Former Jaguars player Tom McManus tweeted: "Extra prayers for the Raines community and neighborhood and the entire city of Jacksonville. No one should ever feel unsafe attending a football game, or any other sport for that matter. C'mon JVille! We have to be better than that! Lead, not follow!"

Newly appointed City Councilman Terrance Freeman tweeted:  "Another tragedy in our community- this time at the Raines High School football game. Condolences and prayers to the families of those involved. We cannot allow these cowardly acts to go unchecked or unsolved- if you have any information about the shooting, please call JSO at 904-630-0500 or you can remain anonymous and call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS."

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor, released the following statement:  “Last night’s shooting at Raines High School is another senseless tragedy in this countless, unacceptable gun violence epidemic. I’m deeply saddened that the beginning of this school year has begun under a cloud of violence, and we must take smart, common-sense measures to keep our children safe.”

The Fraternal Order of Police in Jacksonville tweeted: "Unacceptable. Our members will look high and low to find the coward who did this and ran away. We will need your help. This will stop when the community decides they've had enough. This is a moment to show the nation that Jacksonville will not cower in fear from common criminals who would rip us apart but have the courage to stand together, community and police, and clearly state that we are courage enough to take a real stand against real violence." 

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