JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Police in Jacksonville say they are confident the man in custody in a robbery and shooting at a Westside CVS store earlier this week is the same man who shot and killed at worker in Mojo no.4 Urban BBQ Whiskey Bar the same night.
Investigators, however, say they're not yet charging 24-year-old Herman Pickens with murder in the killing until they can further build their case.
Pickens was shot by an undercover SWAT officer during a stakeout and chase Tuesday afternoon.
He is charged with armed robbery, attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in connection the CVS case early Monday morning, and he's being held without bail.
"We have a great deal of evidence that still needs to be processed, and we want to make sure that we build the strongest case possible in a coordination with the state attorney's office before we add that (murder) charge to him," Chief of Investigations Annie Smith said. "But I want the residents of Avondale know that we are very confident that we have the right person in our custody and that he's not going anywhere."
"It's much more comforting as knowing that the two were related and they've gotten him," said Kathy Hoover, of J Ashley Boutique, just steps away from Mojo in Avondale. "It makes coming to work and leaving a whole lot easier."
Hoover said in the days since the fatal shooting, those at her shop have been much more cautious.
"We did kind of make sure there were always two of us in the store and that we did come and leave together," she said. "We were kind of recommended to do that, so I think most of the merchants in the area have done that."
Robert Sutton, 54, was shot and killed at Mojo while doing cleaning work with another man.
A short time later is when police said Pickens robbed a nearby CVS and shot an employee, whose head was grazed by a bullet. That employee has since been released from a hospital.
Smith said Pickens was in possession of a Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun loaded with 11 rounds (pictured, right) when he was shot twice by an undercover SWAT officer. Smith said Pickens had the gun concealed in a black bag and had his hand in the bag, and when he turned and faced officers, Detective M.E. Campanero fired at him. Smith said the gun will be tested for ballistics in relation to the Mojo killing.
Pickens underwent surgery Tuesday for life-threatening injuries and remained hospitalized Wednesday. His condition was not known.
Stephen Murphy, who lives in Avondale, said the thought of a killer on the loose was frightening.
"It's always a reality just 'cause it is Jacksonville, but it's always been kind of a more quiet area of town over here, so it definitely was unexpected by far, especially since it was twice in one night," Murphy said.
For him and many others in the area, the biggest relief is knowing there were not two different people committing the crimes, and that police were able to arrest Pickens quickly.
Even with him in custody, going back to "normal" may not be an easy task.
"It's probably changed people to be where you had a safety feeling, you're always just a little bit more uneasy or just wondering, 'OK, this could happen again,'" Hoover said. "We're not in the quiet little neighborhood we thought we were."
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