DeSantis, who is running for president, was scheduled to campaign in South Carolina on Monday.
DeSantis also attended a vigil Sunday night for the shooting that killed three people in Jacksonville on Saturday before the gunman killed himself. DeSantis began Sunday’s news conference by condemning the shooting that broke out near Edward Waters University, a historically black university. The three victims were black and the shooter, a 21-year-old man armed with an AR-15 who police said wrote a manifesto, was white.
DeSantis said he spoke to Edward Waters President A. Zachary Faison Jr. and offered additional security resources similar to Jewish day schools after they received threats.
“The use of violence of this nature is unacceptable and there is no place in the state of Florida to target people based on their race,” DeSantis said. “We will not allow our HBCUs in the state of Florida to be targeted by hateful maniacs like yesterday’s guy.”
President Joe Biden said in a statement Sunday that authorities have opened a federal civil rights investigation into the shooting and are considering it a possible hate crime.
“We must say loud and clear that white supremacy has no place in America,” he said. “We must refuse to live in a country where black families who go to the store or black students who go to school live in fear of being shot because of the color of their skin.”
Florida has been the scene of several of the country’s worst mass shootings, including the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, which killed 49 people, and the 2018 tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla 17 people died. including 14 students aged 14 to 18 years.
DeSantis also said he will soon be providing more details about the plans his office has come up with in response to the Jacksonville shooting. He spoke to reporters at the state emergency response center in Tallahassee, where preparations for Tropical Storm Idalia were already well underway.
Hurricane warnings were issued Sunday for much of Florida’s Gulf Coast, from Englewood in Charlotte County up to Indian Pass, west of Apalachicola in the Florida Panhandle. The clock includes Tampa and St. Petersburg. The large stretch of coastline under Hurricane Watch reflects uncertainty in both Idalia’s projected direction and the intensity upon landfall, which weather forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami described as greater than usual as the storm is still forming.
Although the direction of the storm is still uncertain, DeSantis noted that the Big Bend area is in the middle of the vulnerable zone. Though the city is sparsely populated compared to major Gulf Coast cities, DeSantis said power outages will be a particular concern because they hit an area of the state with many tall trees with heavy branches. He also raised concerns about Tallahassee, which experienced massive power outages in the first two weeks after Hurricane Hermione made landfall near St. Marks in the fall of 2016.
DeSantis on Saturday declared a state of emergency for 33 counties, mostly along the Gulf Coast.
“When this storm eventually reaches the Tallahassee area, a lot of trees will be downed and power lines will be downed,” DeSantis said. “It’s just going to happen.”
DeSantis also called on 1,100 Florida National Guard members to bring search and rescue equipment appropriate for the network of swamps that line the coast where Idalia is expected to strike.
The impending storm will come less than a year after Hurricane Ian devastated parts of Florida, killing nearly 150 people and causing billions of dollars in damage.
The state’s Department of Emergency Management will also deploy an army of power supply teams in Marion County to be called in to help. DeSantis also urged local utilities to accept help from state-appointed outsourced teams.
“Please be willing to accept this mutual aid so that we can get the power back online as soon as possible,” DeSantis said. “When we experienced Hurricane Ian, those places that accepted mutual aid early were able to restore power much more quickly.”
Steven Shepard contributed to this story.