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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Gainesville students concerned about gun laws, safety after deadly shooting

Gainesville community weighs in on concerns over gun safety

A deadly July 30 shooting raised several questions about the future of gun safety around university campuses — particularly in Florida — with the passing of HB 543

On July 30, at approximately 2:42 a.m, multiple gunshots were fired near 900 West University Ave. 

There were two victims who died and one injured, according to a public release from the Gainesville Police Department.

The Gainesville Police Department arrested Ja’zier Antonio Myers, who was allegedly seen on surveillance video at Bodytech Tattooing and Piercing on University Avenue for allegedly shooting the first, deceased, victim in the head, according to the GPD arrest report. 

UF Shands Hospital announced the death of the second victim after they were found in front of the Checkers Drive-In on University Avenue. The third victim was found near the restaurant with a gunshot wound to the buttocks. 

Witnesses around the scene stated Myers entered a vehicle while holding a firearm. Myers claimed he has no recollection of what occurred and told GPD he was possibly drugged, according to the arrest report. 

This shooting comes after debate over the “constitutional carry law” went into effect July 1. HB 543 allows Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a government-issued permit. 

Local students are worried about their safety in the downtown and near campus areas after the shooting. 

Jared Craig, a 21-year-old UF public health student, initially had plans to be in the area of the shooting to go out with friends and get a drink.

Craig didn’t end up going out, and he was glad he didn’t, he said.

Craig was shocked but not surprised about the shooting given the state of Florida relaxing rules meant to keep people safe, he said. 

“I think that this is a common and unfortunate story we see repeated daily across the US,” Craig said. 

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Crag recounted a May altercation where guns were involved on the same part of downtown where he had been earlier that night. He believes a lot of UF students and Gainesville residents have been in situations where they are near gun violence, he said.

“I definitely think that the University of Florida, in collaboration with the city of Gainesville, GPD and the state need to work together to address safety in midtown and downtown,“ Craig said.

Craig hopes UF can work with the community to improve safety around campus, he said.

“The University of Florida owes it to its students to advocate for safety not just on campus but in the spaces that students live, have fun in and work — like downtown and midtown,” Craig wrote. 

Daniel Gutierrez, a 23-year-old UF alumnus, has lived in Gainesville for five years. He graduated from UF in 2022 and has witnessed multiple shootings during his time in Gainesville. 

“I have heard, unfortunately, shots fired late at night,” Gutierrez said. “It's something that's on my mind.”

Gutierrez believes safety has only gotten worse since his time as an undergraduate to now postgraduate studies. He recalled a time in early May when a deadly shooting took place near downtown bars Simons, Arcade Bar and University Club. 

Ryan Ruiz, a 20-year-old Santa Fe College animal science student, believes shootings are just going to continue with how things are in Florida. 

More should be done about campus safety, Ruiz said, but he is not sure of what can be done given the passing of HB 543.

“[Florida’s] making it easier to hold these guns in public,” Ruiz said. “All of Florida, at least from what I've seen, is doing a bunch of dumb s--t.” 

Ivana Jordan, a 19-year-old UF behavioral and cognitive neuroscience student, heard about the shooting after a friend sent an article about it in a group chat. 

Jordan hasn’t heard much news coverage about the shooting and finds it sad. She used to feel safe around downtown and midtown, but knowing about the shooting has made her more nervous and aware of her surroundings. 

Jordan doesn’t believe UF can do much about off-campus incidents, but that Florida legislators can. Yet they haven’t done enough, if anything at all, she said.

“I honestly feel neglected by our government sometimes, especially with all the shootings,” Jordan said.

Jordan believes pressuring legislators about the importance of gun safety might persuade them to make a change, she said.

“Keep putting pressure on them and hope that maybe eventually they’ll care about us,” Jordan said. 

Myers is currently being held without bail and has been appointed a public defender according to court documents

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call 352-955-1818 or can remain anonymous by contacting the Alachua County Crime Stoppers at 352-372-7867.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Vivienne at Follow her on Twitter @vivienneserret.

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Vivienne Serret

Vivienne Serret is a UF journalism and criminology senior, writing as a columnist for Summer 2024. She previously reported for The Alligator's university desk as the student government reporter and was managing editor for The Florida Political Review. She loves debating, lifting at the gym and singing.

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