Alexandria shooting sparks added security for Congressman Matt Gaetz
OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WEAR) —
Some politicians are beefing up security when they are out in public.
This comes after a shooting last week in Virginia that injured a Louisiana congressman and several others.
Congressman Matt Gaetz held a town hall meeting in Fort Walton Beach and had four times the amount of security he usually has.
"Most of my colleagues canceled their town hall meeting this weekend because of security concerns," Gaetz said.
Congressman Gaetz was met with cheers and jeers during the town hall meeting on Saturday morning.
Normally there are two officers at the event, but on Saturday Channel 3 News counted nine, with the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office (OCSO) and Fort Walton Beach Police Department (FWBPD).
Frank Roberts said he noticed more security when he first arrived.
"When I looked around there was (security) all over the place and when I drove in the cars sitting on 98 out there was really impressive, I said, 'They are taking care of things.'"
Like most members of congress, Gaetz does not have a personal security detail and doesn't foresee himself getting one. When he conducts town hall meetings, he uses local police to provide a basic level of security.
Residents of Okaloosa County like Robin Holzer said the additional security is needed for politicians.
"Its seems as if people at town halls across the country are more rowdy than others and I know that sometimes the representatives have actually left early because they are afraid of their safety.," Holzer said. "I'm very happy in our area that wasn't the case."
Saturday's was the first town hall meeting in Northwest Florida since Wednesday's shooting that injured Steve Scalise and wounded four others.
The shooting happened during a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, last week. Even Gaetz said more lives were saved because of the bigger security team that was with Scalise Wednesday morning.
"Without the heroic acts of the capitol police, instead of praying for one of my colleagues to get better, I'd be mourning the loss of perhaps a dozen of my colleagues," Gaetz said.
Gaetz also took a tour through the Fort Walton Beach Medical and Ambulatory Center Saturday, followed by a military round table where he talked about the defense budget to posttraumatic stress disorder among service men and women.