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On the same night Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared himself a “law-and-order governor” from a “law-and-order state,” multiple gunmen shot nine people at a post-football gathering eight minutes from his office.
“This amazing amount of gunfire,” is how Tallahassee Police Chief Lawrence Revell described the Saturday night chaos in the state’s capital city.
Just hours earlier, at a rally on Long Island for GOP gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin, DeSantis suggested things were just fine back home.
“The number one thing I hear, where people get so fed up, is they are sick and tired of the crime that you see, particularly in New York City,” he said.
But with the latest carnage in Tallahassee, the number of shootings in that city this year had surpassed 169. New York has reported just over 1,100 in this same period, but with a population of 8 million people to Tallahassee’s 200,000. That means Tallahassee’s incidence of shootings per 1,000 residents is six times that of New York City. (Tallahassee’s overall rate of violent crime is just under twice that of New York City.)
As for DeSantis’ entire “law order state,” Florida’s violent crime rate is 383.60 per 100,000. That is higher than New York’s violent crime rate of 363.76. DeSantis nevertheless declared to a cheering crowd on Saturday, “If Lee Zeldin gets into office, New York will become a law-and-order state.”
DeSantis called on New Yorkers to unseat the incumbent governor, Democrat Kathy Hochul, and vote in Zeldin—an extremist MAGA type who has largely focused on crime in his campaign.
“This will be the 21st century version of the shot heard around the world,” DeSantis said of a Zeldin victory.
Shots of the most literal and jarring kind were, in fact, about to be heard. But by another crowd, as thousands of young people drawn by several big college events and the approach of Halloween had gathered down in Tallahassee in the vicinity of Florida State University Stadium.
Just before midnight, gunfire erupted and nine people were shot. Among them was a man who fell mortally wounded. Officers placed themselves in dire danger as they sought to save him—even as the bullets were still flying.
According to police, another man, 30-year-old De’Arius Cannon, was seen firing into the crowd. Police say he was shot and wounded by officers after he ignored orders to stop and drop his weapon. He survived and is beng held for attempted murder.
Cannon was also charged with carrying a concealed, unlicensed weapon. He would have been spared the concealed charge if DeSantis had signed an open carry bill, as he has pledged to do as part of an effort to turn Florida into a “Second Amendment State” as well as a “law-and-order state.”
Police said the investigation into “the shooting incident” was ongoing. Two other men, William Thomas, 23, and Tamylon Williams, 26, have been charged with being convicted felons in possession of a weapon.
As of midday Monday, police had not yet officially identified the dead man, but a county commissioner—along with the president of the local chapter of the NAACP—told reporters he was 40-year-old Demario “Ro” Murray.
Leon County Commissioner Nick Maddox said Murray’s daughters performed at his wife’s dance studio.
“When people talk about Ro, and reflect on him, they use phrases like ‘solid dude,’ ‘stand up man’ and ‘real one’ to speak to the man, son and father he was. So friends, please, Keep Ro’s family…and his friends in your prayers,” Maddox wrote on Facebook.
Mutaqee Akbar of the NAACP said he had known Murray since childhood.
“His daughters would never feel the embrace of their father again,” Akbar wrote in a Facebook post. “His mom won’t have the assurance that her son will make sure she’s ok as she ages. The mother of his kids will never have the support of his kids’ loving and supporting father.”
From the capital city of the law-and-order state with a law-and-order governor, Akbar mourned the loss of another life to “senseless, barbaric, gun violence.”
“This HAS to stop,” he wrote. “It HAS to be less talk and more work. This death can’t be in vain.”
So spoke one of DeSantis’ constituents.