Flags remain at half-staff outside many businesses around Lake Butler, where a community mourns the loss of a third victim from a deadly Saturday shooting spree.
Forty-four year old David Griffis was shot in the stomach and rushed to the Shands at UF Trauma Unit on Saturday. After undergoing numerous surgeries and remaining in critical condition for three days, Griffis died of his injuries early Tuesday morning. He was the fourth to die by Hubert Allen Jr.’s gun, authorities said, including Allen himself.
Allen, 72, a former employee of Pritchett Trucking Company had written the names of his four victims in what Union County Sheriff Jerry Whitehead described as a suicide note left at his residence. Although the note mentioned the names of his intended victims, the sheriff’s department said it still has not determined a motive.
Whitehead said all the guns used have been located. He said Allen purchased them legally.
Lake Butler residents laid flowers by the sign at the entrance of Pritchett Trucking on State Road 121, where all the victims were employed.
Shortly before WUFT was asked to leave the premises, reporters overheard a conversation between two co-workers.
When one was asked how she was holding up, the other said, “We’re keeping things going. That’s the way he would have wanted” (an apparent reference to the deceased owner of the company, Marvin Pritchett).
Whitehead said the community is really coming together during this difficult time.
“We pull together through our schools and our church, that’s what we are,” he said.
This town isn’t a stranger to tragedy. In 2006, a truck/bus crash left seven children dead and several more seriously injured.
“Learning how to grieve is just something you have to go through. It can’t be taught,” Whitehead said. “My father told me many, many years ago that in these situations you have to get up, put your boots on, tie them real tight and go to work.”
In Lake Butler, it seems almost everyone has a family connection. Coincidentally, Whitehead’s own mother passed away just two weeks ago. His mother was the sister of Pritchett’s widow.