Ft. Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis is trying to walk back shocking claims made shortly following a horrific accident at his city’s Pride parade, now saying he was “terrorized” by the incident, rather than that the incident was a “terror attack.”
As The Daily Wire reported over the weekend, “[o]ne man was killed while another was injured when the driver of a pickup truck accelerated and ran them over.”
“Within moments of the tragedy and before any information was known, Democrats and the media began treating it as a deliberate attack on the LGBT community,” the Daily Wire noted, citing the mayor’s immediate remarks.
“This is a terrorist attack against the LGBT community,” Trantalis told WPLG. “This is exactly what it is. Hardly an accident. It was deliberate, it was premeditated, and it was targeted against a specific person. Luckily they missed that person, but unfortunately, they hit two other people.”
“That person” was later identified as Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL). It is not clear how close Wasserman-Schultz was to the incident and reports vary. In some, the truck “narrowly missed” the Democratic legislator. In others, she was getting into a different vehicle nearby but not immediately adjacent to the incident.
Leftists quickly followed Trantalis’ lead, even blaming Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
”Trantalis’ claims have been echoed across social media and in other media reports, with many blaming a law signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, as the cause of the accident,” The Daily Wire reported. “That bill gives some legal protections to drivers who are sued after running into protesters when they felt they were threatened, but it does not, as many on the Left claimed Sunday morning, give people free rein to run down protesters, nor does give anyone the right to run over parade participants.”
At the time of Trantalis’ remarks, there was no evidence to suggest the incident was intentional. Further reports indicated that the incident was an accident and that the driver remained on the scene. He also appears to have been part of the parade, assigned to drive a vehicle because he could not walk the length of the parade route.
Backlash against the mayor ignited almost immediately with commentators on social media blasting Trantalis for suggesting the incident was intentional.
Sunday night, Trantalis tried to walk back his remarks with a separate statement to Fox News.
The statement did not include an apology.
“Last evening, at the start of what was to be a celebration of pride for the LGBT community and commemoration of our hard-won victories for equality, our community faced the worst of tragedies. The grief of our LGBT community — and greater Fort Lauderdale as a whole — is palpable,” Trantalis told the network. “I was an eyewitness to the horrifying events. It terrorized me and all around me. I reported what I saw to law enforcement and had strong concerns about what transpired — concerns for the safety of my community. I feared it could be intentional based on what I saw from mere feet away.”
“Law enforcement took what appeared obvious to me and others nearby and investigated further — as is their job. As the facts continue to be pieced together, a picture is emerging of an accident in which a truck careened out of control,” he added.
The statement did little to quell criticism.
“How about an apology to your constituents and some self-reflection about what it means to be a leader during a crisis? You failed miserably,” one commenter fired back on Twitter.
“This mayor saw a car accident and then made a public statement — with no evidence — that it was a terrorist attack. That is unacceptable for a public official,” added another.
The mayor’s office has yet to issue an apology or clarification for his remarks. A request for comment to the mayor’s office went unanswered.
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