JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Community members, faith and city leaders joined together Sunday at a prayer vigil to remember the lives of three victims who were violently killed in a Saturday’s mass shooting at a Dollar General.
Hundreds of people came together to pay their respects to 52-year-old Angela Carr, 19-year-old Anolt Joseph “AJ” Laguerre Jr. and 29-year-old Jerrald Gallion, who were all fatally shot in the tragic racially driven attack.
Numerous Jacksonville pastors, city and state leaders agreed that they are tired of the senseless violence, especially in the Black community.
Mayor Donna Deegan, Sheriff T.K. Waters, Councilmember Ju’Coby Pittman, and other city and state representatives are among those in attendance at the event near the intersection of Almeda Street and Kings Road.
Gallion’s family also attended the vigil to share their grief.
“I just hope something gets done. Enough is enough. I have to be my brother’s voice because he doesn’t have a voice anymore. His voice was silenced forever yesterday,” his sister Latiffany Gallion said.
His family said Gallion was a devoted father and a hard worker. His grandmother Sabrina Rozier remembered him a funny, loving and caring grandson, who would give his last.
The family shared that they found out about his untimely death on social media.
Laguerre was an employee at the store and his coworker Michael Coggin came to pay his respects.
“I want to tell his grandma I’m sorry because I wasn’t there to protect him like I told her I would a couple of months ago,” Coggin said. “She wanted him to quit because she was scared someone would come up and shoot him and a couple of months later this happens.”
Coggin said Laguerre would keep a pig-shaped dog chew toy by his register because he was so quiet.
“I told him, ‘If you need more, holler.’ He never would but he had a little pig squeeze toy, and [Laguerre] said, ‘If I squeeze it, come running.”
Leaders talked about uniting the community and putting more money into a neighborhood that they said is overlooked and underfunded.
DeSantis appeared at a vigil outside the store where the shootings occurred. The governor called the gunman a “scumbag” and said there was no tolerance for racist violence in Florida.
DeSantis’ campaign schedule had called for him to be in South Carolina Monday for a morning town hall in Kershaw and a barbecue with Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., in Anderson. But Sunday night, his campaign spokesman Bryan Griffin announced the governor was canceling his South Carolina travel.
“For this guy to put on this tactical gear, and drive from another county to come to this community to try to kill people because they’re a different race than him, you know that is a coward,” DeSantis said.
City Councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman says what this community needs most is reassurance from leaders that they are behind in finding a solution.
“Today people felt hope that we had the right people here,” Pittman said. “When someone comes in your community and doesn’t live here and they want to provide hate of Black and Brown people, that’s a problem. That’s a real real problem, and we have to address it. We can’t sweep it under the rug anymore.”
DeSantis mentioned his way of addressing the problem.
“We’re going to have some announcements very soon, not just to help the councilwoman but also Edward Waters College [sic]. I’m really concerned if people think they can target HBCUs, that’s unacceptable. We’re going to make sure they have security,” DeSantis said to the crowd.