‘The only thing left to do is pray:’ Daytona Beach police chief says at vigil for officer Raynor

Officer Jason Raynor is in critical condition

Daytona Beach Officer Jason Raynor continues his fight for his life at Halifax Hospital, about 100 community leaders, members of law enforcement, doctors and nurses gathered in prayer on Thursday.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Daytona Beach Officer Jason Raynor continues his fight for his life at Halifax Hospital, about 100 community leaders, members of law enforcement, doctors and nurses gathered in prayer on Thursday.

“I am overwhelmed by the amount of support that, not just me, but my department has received from the moment the shooting happened,” Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young said. “I don’t think there’s anything else that man can do that hasn’t been done for my officer, so at this point, the only thing left to do is pray.”

At last check, Officer Raynor is still in critical condition after being shot in the head after approaching the suspect identified as 29-year-old Othal Wallace, Wednesday night. Raynor’s body camera video was released hours later, showing the situation escalating when Wallace stood up and refused to get back in the vehicle as Raynor repeatedly asked him to sit down.

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Young said Thursday morning the officer, Jason Raynor, was “still very much in critical condition.”

News 6 was initially not showing any pictures of Raynor at his family’s request but we have since received permission from his sister to use one photo.

A family member provided this picture of Daytona Beach police officer Jason Raynor, who was shot in the head on June 23, 2021. (Courtesy of the Raynor family)

“Knowing him, if he were to pull through this, this cop would do everything in his power to get back on the job and continue serving the citizens of this community, and he would do so with zero hatred or malice in his heart,” Young said.

The police chief also said Raynor’s mother has been with him in the hospital and described him as “a young kid.”

[RELATED: Here’s what we know about the Daytona Beach police officer shot in line of duty]

“I looked at the video. The officer did his job. The officer did what he was supposed to do. That was cowardice way out,” Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance President Pastor Victor Gooden said. “It was Senseless... senseless, so we need to come together to lift up this young man [Officer Raynor] to let them know we care about them.”

The vigil was organized by the local chapters of the Black Clergy Alliance and the NAACP. Daytona Beach NAACP branch president, Cynthis Slater, sending a message that the groups condemn the actions of the suspect.

“We must pray for a better community and speak out against this criminal act,” Slater said. “This is not the Daytona that I was born and raised in. This is not the Daytona I know. We will not sit back and say this is not our problem, because it is. An officer was protecting our community and a coward wounded him. I want to say to this man, ‘turn yourself in so this hunt - for you - won’t end in violence like what you started.’”

Several community leaders and local pastors led prayers for Officer Raynor, his family and all first responders. At one point, the group linking arms to show unity against violence and support for Raynor and law enforcement.

“Hate and evil and it’s not about skin color... hate is hate,” Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. “We cannot allow hatred to dominate our life.”

Community leaders are encouraging other families to keep Officer Raynor and his family in prayer.

The suspected shooter, 29-year-old Othal Wallace, is still on the run and the search has expanded outside of Central Florida, according to sources close to the investigation. Search efforts for Wallace now include federal agents.

Body camera video was released shortly after the incident showing the moments leading up to the shooting. Police said Raynor stopped responding to calls on his radio and other officers found him lying on the ground suffering from a gunshot wound to the head.

About the Authors:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined ClickOrlando.com in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.