The suspect arrested overnight in connection with the gunfire that killed two and hurt six people at a Sweet 16 dance Saturday in Rivera Beach has ties to the mayor, Gossip Extra has learned exclusively.
Rijkard Jean-Baptiste, 20, who allegedly fired his gun at another man in the crowded dance hall, is the boyfriend of Mayor Thomas Masters‘ granddaughter — and he’s believed to be the father of the child she is expecting!
Masters, a Baptist bishop who’s a Florida delegate at the Democratic National Convention, has been prominently featured on TV newscasts about the shooting. He has delivered several appeals for the suspects to surrender, and a curfew he recently put in place.
But Masters said this morning he had no idea that Jean-Baptiste was being hunted by police.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Masters when reached by Gossip Extra, in Charlotte, N.C. ”I’m in shock.”
Masters says he will remain in North Carolina for tonight’s convention-closing speech by President Barack Obama.
“I don’t really know him (the suspect),” Masters said, “but it is unfortunate that my granddaughter is connected to him.”
Masters, who has three adult children and eight grandchildren, confirmed his 18-year-old granddaughter Shenez told her family she recently got pregnant.
“My thoughts and prayers have been with the victims of this senseless tragedy and their families,” Masters said. “I will not protect or defend anyone who is found guilty of this violence. If he is found guilty he (Jean-Baptiste) must face the music.
“I feel sorry for my granddaughter and I love her. But I’m not responsible for the actions of other people.”
Jean-Baptiste, meanwhile, was charged with first- and second-degree murder and is being held at the Palm Beach Country Sheriff’s Office lockup on no bail.
He is accused of shooting some of as many as nine bullets into crowded Newcomb Hall, at the Riviera Beach Municipal Marina, during an argument with another man.
Riviera Beach Police said the second shooter was killed in the confrontation.