DeSantis calls suspect in Florida mass shooting ‘totally off his rocker’ in event to praise law enforcement

By Richard Tribou

ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was in Lakeland two days after a shooting that left four people, including a 3-month-old child, dead.

Arrested for the shooting was Marine veteran Bryan Riley, 33, who is being held without bond after being charged with four counts of first-degree murder in Sunday’s massacre in Polk County.

“This is an outrageous crime. This guy was totally off his rocker and needs to have the full weight of the law brought down,” DeSantis said. “When you have something like that happening, what do you do? These are the folks that you call upon and they’re there for you time and time again.”

DeSantis spent most of the news conference from the Lakeland Police Department to focus on the $1,000 bonuses given to first responders this year and his statewide recruitment push.

“Anytime something happens, we saw most recently, with this crazed guy on drugs in Polk County, you need the folks in uniform to go respond to these crises,” DeSantis said. “So as we get to the 20th anniversary of 9/11, we’ve got to thank those first responders yet again, and hopefully we don’t face anything on that scale ever again in our country but we know whatever comes down the pike, they’ll be there for us.”

DeSantis said the Lakeland Police Department recently recruited 13 law enforcement officers from New York City to fill positions in Florida, and highlighted his previously announced push to recruit officers to the state, including a $5,000 signing bonus, and other features.

He reiterated his stance that Florida is a state that welcomes law enforcement, and praised their and other first responders efforts during statewide tragedies.

“You know, we’ve seen this time and again. When we were in Surfside, within minutes you had first responders showing. They’re digging in the rubble, they’re going in getting and rescuing people knowing that the rest of that building could collapse,” DeSantis said. “These are folks that, they’re the ones that have to be the tip of the spear when anything happens in society that’s dangerous and that endangers the community and I think the least we can do is let them know we support them.”

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