JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Members of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees began their annual federal conference in Jacksonville, Florida this week to discuss coming priorities and challenges for federal employees, just blocks from the most recent U.S. mass shooting.
The shooting occurred at a Madden NFL 19 video gaming event at Chicago Pizza restaurant in the Jacksonville Landing shopping center, roughly five blocks from the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, where the conference is being held.
The shooter, believed to be a 24-year-old from Baltimore, Maryland, killed three including himself, and injured nearly a dozen, who remain in stable condition, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Leadership of the FEDCon18 conference told attendees to forego previously suggested restaurants in the area for dinner, and instead opt to dine at the hotel. They also offered condolences to the victims of the shooting and their families.
“At this time we are not aware of any NARFE members or FEDcon18 attendees who were in the affected area at this time of the shooting. The safety of conference attendees, sponsors, staff and volunteers are of paramount concern. We are working with hotel security personnel and local law enforcement to maintain a safe and secure environment where active and retired federal employees can learn, advocate and lead. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and friends at this difficult time,” NARFE National Headquarters said in a Facebook post.
The hotel hosting the conference sent letters to guests informing them that they had been in contact with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, who believed that the hotel was not in danger at any point during the shooting.
Office of Personnel Management Director Jeff Pon is scheduled to address the conference Aug. 27, and no change of schedule for Pon has been announced.