What began as a call about an assault in a car on the Westside on Friday morning became an investigation into the manufacture of methamphetamines, the partial evacuation of a hotel and five arrests.
A witness called police to report an assault in progress in a vehicle on Normandy Boulevard about 11 a.m. The witness followed the car until police caught up with it on Romona Boulevard, west of Lane Avenue.
After a traffic stop, the car pulled forward near the parking lot of a hotel. Police say there were five people in the car, some of whom the officer recognized from a previous encounter. He also smelled a foul odor he thought could be illegal drugs, then saw weapons in the car.
The officer called for backup and narcotics investigators, and all five people were evacuated on a charge of armed conspiracy to manufacture or distribute methamphetamines. Their names were not released at the scene.
The JSO bomb squad and Jacksonville Fire-Rescue Hazmat team were called to check out the car and a room (pictured, right) at the nearby Executive Inn, where some or all of the suspects had been staying. Adjoining rooms were evacuated Friday afternoon as a precaution, as the manufacture of meth can be highly volatile.
Part of Ramona Boulevard was closed in the area much of the afternoon. It reopened just after 6 p.m.