Officials seek to ease tension over Jay incident

Published 9:35 pm Monday, March 8, 2010

By By Lisa Tindell
news editor

Even as shooting victim GeTyron “Gus” Benjamin was laid to rest Thursday, officials continued to try to diffuse tension between two communities caught in the middle of the incident that took his life.
Jay (Fla.) High School officials on Thursday decided to pull their girls softball team from the T.R. Miller Invitational this weekend. Jay High School Principal Dale Westmorland said the decision was best for both schools.
Meanwhile, an investigation continued into the alleged appearance of two masked individuals outside the dorm room of two Jay students on the campus of Jefferson Davis Community College Monday night.
Benjamin, 18, was killed Friday night as a suspect fired shots at the car in which he was riding as it was driving away from a late-night party near Jay in Santa Rosa County. Robert Franklin Floyd, 21, remains in jail without bond on a charge of open murder and three counts of attempted murder.
Because Benjamin was black and Floyd is white, the incident has ignited tensions between the two communities, but officials said little has come of it.
In the Monday night night incident at JDCC, Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith said police officers and deputies responded to a 911 call alerting them to masked individuals outside a dorm.
raining hard that night and dogs couldn’t track, so they were not called in. It’s not known if the two people seen fled the area on foot or by vehicle.”
Smith said two of the occupants in the dorm room were Jay residents.
Smith said a lot of rumors have circulated in connection with Benjamin’s death and possible retaliation to the incident.
Smith said those who have an idea to create any disturbance should reconsider.
JDCC President Dr. Susan McBride said security on campus has been increased to help students feel safe since Monday’s events unfolded.
McBride said the increased security is a direct response to the incident and was done to help students feel safer on campus.
perception of safety,” McBride said. “We have increased the presence of
security on campus for that reason.”

Email newsletter signup