A man was shot in the head during a robbery at a CVS in Avondale early Monday morning, and another man was shot and killed in a robbery shooting at a nearby Mojo no.4 Urban BBQ Whiskey Bar a short time later, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Police said the shootings may be related, but can't say for sure.
Officers were called to CVS in the 4400 block of San Juan Avenue at 3:14 a.m. They said a man brandished a firearm, demanded money, pointed the firearm at the man inside and shot him in the head. The bullet ricocheted off the man's head, police said. He was taken to a local hospital and has since been released.
At 3:58 a.m., police were called to a shooting at Mojo in the 3500 block of St. Johns Avenue, about two miles away. Robert Sutton was pronounced dead at the scene.
"There were workers doing work inside the restaurant," Coarsey said. "They had both front and back doors open so they could get access to equipment. The person came inside."
A man who works for Ed Lumley's Exhaust Cleaning said he and 54-year-old Sutton were working together, cleaning the restaurant's exhaust system when his partner was killed. He said the back door of the business was open and the pressure washer was very loud when an armed man ran inside and demanded money.
The man, whom Channel 4 is not identifying because he is considered a witness in a murder investigation, said Sutton, a longtime employee of the company, called his name, and almost immediately he heard one gunshot.
"Next thing you know, I heard a guy demanding money, and he chased after my partner and shot him in the chest," the man said. "I don't think he seen me too well, so I got in some plastic and ducked under a counter and waited about 30 minutes."
From his hiding place, he said he heard what sounded like someone trying to break into the cash register. When he came out of hiding, his partner was dead.
"When I seen him, he was laid out, shot in the chest. He was dead on the spot," said the co-worker, who worked with Sutton for seven years. "If it wasn't for God on my side, I wouldn't be here today. He was definitely looking out for me 'cause I didn't think I was making it out of there."
The man said the surveillance photo of the man in the CVS robbery resembles the man who killed his partner at Mojo.
Police believe the Mojo shooting happened before the CVS one, but they weren't called to the restaurant until afterward because the co-worker was in hiding during that time.
"We can't definitely say (the two scenes are) tied together, but we're working it as if it were all the same perpetrators," Coarsey said. "We have officers at both scenes, detectives at both scenes, crime scene units at both scenes working it right now."
At this point, no suspects have been identified and no arrests made, but police released surveillance photos of the CVS robber.
Coarsey said these two incidents could be connected to the attempted robberies over the weekend on the Westside.
Mojo no.4 Urban BBQ Whiskey Bar said in a tweet that it will be closed Monday and reopening Tuesday.
In a statement to Channel 4, CVS spokesman Mike DeAngelis said, "Fortunately, our employee was treated and released from the hospital this morning. Apparently, he was only grazed by the bullet. For any other specific details, we are deferring to Jacksonville police as it is an ongoing investigation. We are fully cooperating with police and have provided them with surveillance images of the suspect."
"Unfortunately, people who work in the wee hours of the morning are targets, easy targets a lot of times for would-be thieves, would-be robbers," said Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson.
He warns that overnight employees should always lock their doors and be aware of others around them.
It's not what locals say they expected in an upscale Avondale neighborhood, where some say their sense of security has been shattered.
"I'm concerned they haven't been caught yet," resident Cole Cartledge said. "I'm sure they are looking, but I'm hoping they can be captured right away."
Police said the robbery shootings are not related to a crime spree on the Westside on Sunday.
Anyone who has any information about these shootings or the identity of the robber is asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.