The shooter in Florida's latest, high-profile "stand your ground" shooting was arrested on Monday and charged with manslaughter, sparking immediate reaction from those running to be Florida's next governor.
Michael Drejka, 47, was booked into the Pinellas County Jail, where he will be held in lieu of $100,000 bail, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Drejka was not immediately arrested after he shot 28-year-old Markeis McGlockton on July 19 because of the controversial self-defense law, called "Stand Your Ground," that eliminated one’s duty to retreat before resorting to force.
The case has drawn the national spotlight and renewed debate over racial injustice and the controversial law. Drejka, the shooter, is white and McGlockton was black.
The two Republican candidates for governor, Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam, got into a nasty disagreement over the case that started on Twitter and then spilled into last week's debate in Jacksonville. DeSantis said that Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri had not "analyzed the law properly" in his decision to apply the "Stand Your Ground" law in this case, and Putnam accused him of improperly criticizing law enforcement and "siding" with Democrats.
Democrats universally celebrated the arrest and some renewed calls for a repeal of "Stand Your Ground." National civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, who visited Clearwater after the shooting, said in a statement on Monday that the arrest is a "ray of hope," while the state law is "an abomination" that allows "vigilante justice that consistently provides cover to racists and bigots for murdering innocent Black Americans."
Here are the candidates' reactions, all provided via statements, unless otherwise noted:
Adam Putnam: "I support the State Attorney’s decision. The process worked."
Ron DeSantis: His campaign has not yet responded to a request for comment. This post will be updated if a statement is received.
Andrew Gillum: "I'm relieved Markeis McGlockton’s family and the people of Clearwater will be heard in this horrific tragedy. ... However, Stand Your Ground still created the environment where the shooter believed he had a legal right to murder Markeis McGlockton. I again call on Governor Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency and suspend this law before someone else gets hurt or killed."
Gwen Graham: "Today’s decision to charge Michael Drejka is a step toward justice for Markeis McGlockton — but it also exposes the fatal issues with Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. ... As Governor, I will lead an effort to repeal the law and examine legislation that protects those who are legitimately defending themselves, without creating a legal loophole for criminal behavior. I will also create a task force of prosecutors, community and civil rights leaders to take a look at every self-defense case where a death occurs to ensure that the law isn't allowing criminals to slip through the cracks."
Jeff Greene: "Today’s (delayed) decision to arrest and charge Michael Drejka means justice may finally be served in the senseless killing of Markeis McGlockton. I am proud that our voices and calls to action made a difference here – but the fact remains that an innocent, unarmed father was shot to death in front of his children in the middle of the afternoon. Stand Your Ground is legalized murder. It must be repealed."
Chris King: "The state attorney’s office is doing what Sheriff Gualtieri has failed to do thus far –– seeking justice for the death of Markeis McGlockton. This community is crying out for action and the McGlockton family deserves justice, and that’s why I’ve been calling for leaders to act since this tragedy occurred. Today’s decision is another example why Florida’s broken ‘stand your ground’ law must be repealed so that justice in this case and every other tragedy can never be delayed or denied."
Philip Levine, who spoke to a Times reporter at an event in Tampa: "(The arrest is) a first step in the right direction. I’m surprised it took that long. I think the Sheriff was wrong in not arresting him immediately on the scene because clearly there was probable cause. I’m not a lawyer, but based on what I saw, he should’ve been arrested there instantly."
Tampa Bay Times reporter Steve Contorno contributed to this report.