JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four people robbed at gunpoint Friday afternoon in Riverside are hoping someone will recognize the man who held them up and turn him in.
The robbery was in broad daylight in an alley a half block off King Street. This is just across the street from where 20-year-old Daniel Rowe was shot and killed last July while taking out the garbage at the Blind Rabbit.
"I was talking to some of my co-workers down here in the alley. There was a man walking by and, for a split second, I had a bad feeling about it," Matthew Reichstadter said.
His gut feeling was correct. It wasn't long before that man pulled a pistol on Reichstadter and his co-workers. He said the robber cocked his gun, but it jammed.
"He kept on demanding (me to) put my phone on the ground, and I don't even own a phone, but he kept pointing to my pocket and I had this vape, so I put it on the ground," Reichstadter said.
He said the robber left the electronic cigarette, but took $250 in cash. When the guy ran, the four victims began chasing him, which prompted the man to toss everything he stole except the money to the ground.
Reichstadter said Daniel Rowe's murder was definitely on his mind when a gun was pulled on him.
"That was probably one of the biggest factors keeping me from rushing the guy," Reichstadter said. "Knowing someone had just been murdered across the street a year ago greatly influenced my decision to not take him down despite his jammed gun because (there's a) good chance he would have tried to dislodge his jam and shoot his gun."
The suspect was described as a black man in his 30s or 40s with short hair and a lazy eye. They said he really didn't make much effort to disguise himself. Police also have retrieved surveillance video from outside the office of City Councilman Jim Love's office, which is in the area.
Love said the area needs more police presence.
"But happening in broad daylight is a scary part to me," Love said. "You know, if it happens at two in the morning and people have been drinking, it's not that you don't expect it, but it's more likely to happen. But in broad daylight, it's really brazen and, hopefully, we'll catch this guy really quickly."
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said that while the time of day is surprising, criminals are looking for opportunities.
"I know they were with a group of people, and we always say there is strength in numbers, but you have to be aware also, there are crimes being committed there at different times of the day, or the possibility of that<' Smith said.
Smith added that congregating within sight of others could help keep them safe.
"If a crime occurs there, there’s not going to be witnesses there who can see it or lend some type of assistance," Smith said.
Anyone who recognizes the man from the description, the surveillance video, or witnessed something in the area Friday afternoon is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.