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FBI, Department of Homeland Security hold special call with local NAACP following mass shooting

FBI NAACP Homeland Security
Posted at 6:27 AM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 07:53:51-04

TAMPA, Fla — A special meeting between the FBI, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, the Department of Homeland Security and the Hillsborough County NAACP happened Monday.

Yvette Lewis, the President of the local NAACP branch told ABC Action News the FBI and sheriff's office called her to set that meeting up. It came on the heels of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.

Remembering the victims: 10 lives lost in the Buffalo mass shooting

It’s hard to wrap your head around what happened there over the weekend and it seems many people are struggling with that.

“We’ve had several phone calls come through this office. People are going through a whole range of emotions. People are angry, and people are hurt and sad, why is the big question,” Lewis said. “Why, why, why? Of course, I don’t have the answer to that question.”

But, Lewis understands her position as a leader of a civil rights organization can be heavy, which is why she offers this advice.

“When you feel like you need to cry, you go ahead and do it. But you’ve gotta have faith through this whole thing,” she said. “Because you didn’t do anything wrong. Those people didn’t do anything wrong. They just went to go buy some groceries. Someone taught this man, this young man to hate.”

RELATED: Suspect in Buffalo mass shooting visited store two months before attack, was confronted by security guard

Monday the FBI and the Department of Homeland security, along with the Hillsborough County Sheriffs' Office held a special safety briefing with Lewis and the NAACP and told them to be aware of their surroundings and gave them tips on what to do if they think they’re in danger.

“You realize that things can happen at the split of a moment. You’re just going to the grocery store, you’re just going to get gas, going to get something to eat, things could happen,” said Lewis. “And, if you suspect something, report it. There's ways of reporting it, they gave us instructions too.”

If you feel upset or scared about what happened in Buffalo and want to talk to someone, you can always reach out to the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay. Dial 211 on your cell phone.