JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The man accused of firing a gun inside a Northwest Jacksonville credit union and threatening to kill hostages during a two-hour standoff with police last month was arraigned Thursday morning.
Nicholas Humphrey, 23, looked toward his family before pleading not guilty to charges of armed robbery, 13 counts of kidnapping and auto theft.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said Humphrey came into the Community First Credit Union in Northwest Jacksonville shortly after it opened Dec. 1 with a dog, dog food and a gun and took 13 hostages. He was taken into custody and the hostages were freed when two of the hostages made a run for the door and the SWAT team took advantage of the distraction and stormed the building.
The hostages, seven of whom were employees at the credit union, were escorted out safely by SWAT officers. There were no injuries.
Humphrey's father, Andre Comb, told News4Jax that he suspects his son had mental issues. Despite the concern, he didn’t think his son could be violent and didn't know he had a gun.
"I seen a decline in his mental state, but it was gradually happening," Comb said. "The day before, that’s when I really seen things were deteriorating. "
Comb said he is concerned Humphrey will not get a fair trial if he does not receive a mental evaluation. Comb said he and his wife speak to Humphrey in jail three or four times each week, and his son is remorseful and apologized for "letting his father down."
"No one can believe that this is Nicholas," his mother, Betty Humphrey, said. "I tell them that was not him, because he wasn’t in his right mind. He had been having episodes off and on."
Attorney Randy Reep, who is not involved in this case, said Humphrey’s lawyer could request a mental evaluation for his client, but it might not help his case.
"To hit that high standard that a person would be not guilty as a result of a mental illness or defect, it is extraordinarily rare," Reep said. "The standard is so high to show that people didn’t appreciate the consequences of what they were doing ... it is very difficult to achieve that standard."
Humphrey's only previous arrest in Jacksonville was in September on a traffic offense, although he was also arrested in the Tampa area in February 2016 for domestic violence.
Humphry is due back in court Feb. 2. Combs said he and his wife will be in court to support their son at every step of the process.
"To show that he does have a family that cares and his background, upbringing. ... We just don’t want him channeled through the system as a violent person, because he is not. (There) is something that triggered (him) off," Combs said. "While he is incarcerated, I think this is a great time to get him some help. It is well needed."