JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A permit to host a youth football game where a man was killed over the weekend was denied because an organization involved did not hire off-duty Jacksonville Sheriff’s officers to provide security for the event, News4Jax has learned.
The deadly gunfire erupted about 6 p.m. Sunday at an Arlington Football Association field near Arlington Heights Elementary. Police said a 27-year-old man was shot and killed and a 7-year-old boy was injured when a gunman got out of an SUV and opened fire in what was described as a targeted attack.
In a statement released through a spokesperson Thursday, the city said: “The use/permit was denied in part because the organization declined to hire JSO officers to staff the event, which is a requirement of the City of Jacksonville for large permitted events.”
The shooting marks one in a string of shootings to plague the city’s Arlington neighborhood, which has seen eight people shot in six incidents since Oct. 17. The eighth shooting happened Thursday afternoon when a 19-year-old man was shot in the chest during a fight at the University Place Apartments.
“Right now, it’s almost as if they have no regard for life, no respect for life and not even respect for humanity,” City Councilwoman Joyce Morgan said Thursday. “That’s a problem.”
Speaking to the recent outbreak of gun violence, city leaders said the solution to the problem isn’t simple. That it happened during a youth football game, the sort of outlet typically used to deter crime, served as a somber reminder that tragedy can strike anywhere at any time.
Mayor Lenny Curry said he’s spoken with Sheriff Mike Williams about the incident, saying the city will continue investing in the needs of its communities.
“We’re going to continue to up the ante and do everything we can to give young people opportunities that don’t include crime and violence, and to frankly get bad guys shooting people off the street, put in jail and prosecuted,” the mayor said.
Morgan said it’s not just up to law enforcement, though. She said security is key to making sure people are safe at events.
“It’s not going to be just the police arresting or something like that,” Morgan said. “I hate to say it, but people themselves have a responsibility. There’s lots of responsibility on their end as well.”
She said the city needs more outlets for its youth, resources to help small businesses grow, workforce development to give people skills to succeed and strategies to help the Sheriff’s Office curb crime. She said her office is working with the apartment complexes where families live.
“We’re actually working in those neighborhoods specifically to make sure that the management of those apartment complexes are on board with what we’re trying to do as far as crime and safety,” she said.
Morgan also said her office is actively working on infrastructure, building new homes, improving 25 parks and plans for more businesses in the area. Ultimately, she feels the neighborhood has all the pieces it needs to slow crime down – they just need to be put together.
Morgan routinely holds virtual town hall meetings to get public input. The next one is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday. You can learn more about these meetings or find the schedule on the city’s website.