Larry Thompson, the man wanted in the kidnapping of Michelle McCoy, was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head when a SWAT team entered a Northside home Thursday night.
Police said they tear gassed the home in hopes of bringing Thompson out alive. After multiple rounds of tear gas, Thompson still did not emerge from the home. Once police entered the home on Eighth Street, they found Thompson dead of a single gunshot wound. Police said he was holding a gun when he was found.
"I guess it got to the point where he knew there were enough police and we were coming in sooner or later that he took matters into his own hands," said Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Director Dwain Senterfitt.
Thompson, 52, had been a suspect in the kidnapping of 20-year-old McCoy one month ago. McCoy's remains were discovered last week in a lot two miles from her home. Police said she was beaten to death.
McCoy's family told Channel 4 that police received a tip on Thursday that Thompson was in the area.
The SWAT team was called to Eighth Street at Interstate 95 shortly after 1 p.m. Parts of Eighth Street and the Interstate 95 southbound exit ramp were closed to traffic for the next several hours.
Police said Thompson's relatives told them he would not go back to jail.
Negotiators could be heard on a bullhorn calling for Thompson to surrender and come out of the home. Heavily armed police were seen firing at least seven shots of tear gas into the home.
McCoy's family members and friends gathered at the scene initially cheered when Senterfitt announced that Thompson was dead, but later told Channel 4 that his death means that questions about McCoy's kidnapping and killing may never be answered.
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Police said McCoy and Thompson were a romantic couple, but McCoy's family denies that.
McCoy's family had planned a vigil for Thursday evening before the SWAT team began its investigation, but they spent the evening at the scene of the SWAT investigation instead, where community members flooded the streets.
"Closure is not even the word for this right here. The feeling that I have right now, it's not even the word for it," India, McCoy's cousin, said of the SWAT search. "Overwhelming. I feel like Michelle is smiling down on us right now like, 'OK, yes, we got him or we're close to getting him.'"
Melissa McCoy, Michelle's twin sister, said she hoped Thompson was arrested Thursday, one month since Michelle's disappearance.
"I'm anxious to know what's going on," Melissa said about 6:30 p.m. Thursday. "I hope that they do got (Thompson). This is the day that they need to get him. I just hope that he's in there but he's not dead."
Melissa and India said the last few weeks for their family have been extremely difficult.
"The way that she died, no one is supposed to die like that," India said while crying. "It's been so hard just going around every day not seeing her, not being able to talk to her."
The family said they will hold a vigil for Michelle on Friday evening.