Grandmother killed, woman injured in 'intense' New Town shooting

Shooters open fire on car outside Kelly's Place bar

By Ethan Calloway - Anchor/reporter , Bakari Savage - Reporter, anchor , News4Jax.com Staff

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A grandmother was killed and another woman was critically injured Thursday night in a shooting outside a New Town bar and restaurant, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Police said someone fired around 40 shots from the street into the parking lot of Kelly's Place, a bar on Kings Avenue. A silver Honda Accord was sprayed with bullets.

Inside the car was Jennifer Nelson, a 48-year-old mother of four and grandmother of "six or seven,” according to two women who said they are Nelson's cousins.

Kendra Bryant said the sudden loss of her cousin is still sinking in.

“She was just a nice, loving person,” Bryant said. “She wasn't the type of person that anyone could hate or dislike. She was too fun-loving and happy-going, so no one would want this to happen to her.”

Police are still searching for a motive for the shooting.

Bryant said Kelly's Place was Nelson's neighborhood hangout. She said Nelson's sister was also murdered on Kings Road 10 to 15 years ago.

“We are going through a lot because her sister passed away on that same road in a violent crime and now it's just opening up the same wound for my family, so it's a lot right now,” Bryant said.

Bryant said she can’t imagine who would target her cousin or why.

“We're just going to try and pick up the pieces. There's nothing else left that we can do,” Bryant said. “She would want us to be together because she was very family oriented, so we're just going to try to do whatever we have to do.”

Police have not released the name of the injured woman.

Hail of gunfire outside bar

Officers patrolling the area of Myrtle Avenue and Kings Road heard gunshots around 9:30 p.m., Sgt. Chuck Ford said.

"There was a pretty intense number of shots that were fired here," Ford said.

The bar owner told News4Jax he had seen the women before and he hadn't noticed anything unusual happening Thursday night before the shooting. He said that it was a little busier than usual for a Thursday night, but that there were no issues until the shooting, which he said happened around 9:30 p.m.

A woman who said she knew Nelson heard the shooting from nearby.

“We started hearing shots. They were too close so we got on the ground,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified. “We heard a ping, ping. You could hear them, like you could hear that they were shooting something.”

Dozens of evidence markers were laid down on the parking lot outside Kelly's Place. Multiple bullet holes could also be seen in the silver Honda Accord and other vehicles parked outside of the bar. 

Investigators said it appeared the shots were being fired from Kings Road toward the parking lot. It was unclear if the victims were inside the vehicle at the time of the shooting, police said.

Detectives talked with witnesses who were both inside and outside the bar at the time of the shooting. Some of those witnesses were taken to police headquarters downtown for questioning, Ford said.

Detectives are looking for surveillance video from around the area to see if they can find some clues but as of now, no description of a suspect or vehicle has been released.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

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