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Neighbors ID gunman killed by officer in Oceanway

27-year veteran officer on administrative leave after shooting

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man who police said was holding a shotgun in one hand and a bottle of liquor in the other was shot and killed Thursday morning by a veteran Jacksonville police officer, Undersheriff Pat Ivey said.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said the man fired into a home on Shims Road, just north of New Berlin Road, just before 7 a.m. Police have not released his name, but neighbors identified him as Jacob DePetris, who they said had an on-and-off relationship with a woman who lives in a second residence on the property. That woman was not home at the time.

Police said the gunman pushed his way inside, where evidence and witnesses indicated that he threatened to kill the man and the woman who were home, but his gun misfired several times, giving the residents a chance to call police.

Officer Howard Smith, a 27-year veteran of the JSO, encountered the man outside. Police said the gunman was headed to a second residence on the property when Smith confronted him. The man refused the officer's orders to drop the shotgun and appeared to raise it instead, Smith fired. The gunman died at the scene.

“Per witnesses, the subject made statements to the effect of he was not going to drop the firearm," Ivey said. “On the last particular time after being told several times, he raised it quite high in pointing it at the officer, and the officer discharged his weapon twice.”

DePetris, 29, died at the scene.

A friend of DePetris' arrived at the scene late Thursday, after hearing about the shooting. "I am just heartbroken. It hurts so bad, " said Matthew Manor. Manor told News4Jax he worked with DePetris at a local overhead door company. 

Manor said DePetris was in a relationship with a woman who lived on the property. "He said he just couldn't live without his girl and his family. I can't even imagine what he went through," Manor said. 

Even more unsettling, Manor said DePetris has shared some deeply personal thoughts with him. "He shared with me a while back that he wouldn't just go to jail if t ever came down to it, he would make the police take his life," Manor said. 

Ivey said that if the gunman had a history of arrests. News4Jax searched jail records and found arrests for trespassing, criminal mischief, DUI and other arrests, but DePetris was never charged with any violent offenses.

The neighbor who provided DePetris' name said he had a child with the woman that police said he was looking for when he went to the house.

This was Smith's first officer-involved shooting. He is on administrative leave while the incident is investigated.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said that any time an officer confronts someone with a gun, it dangerous for both. The fact that it was not yet light outside made it difficult for the officer to know if an innocent bystander was in the line of fire.

"That happened to me once when I was on street patrol. We were going to fire back at someone, but there were kids running behind them, so we were not able to shoot," Gil Smith said. "It must have been clear that they did have a clear shot at him without anyone's life being in danger."

This was the ninth shooting by a Jacksonville officer this year, and the third person killed by an officer's gunfire. 


About the Authors:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.