wjxt logo

JSO: Armed ex-con killed by police after kidnapping teen

14-year-old victim not injured

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 20-year-old two-time convicted felon who kidnapped a teenage girl at gunpoint was fatally shot by two police officers Monday night on the city's Westside, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

Officers responded just after 8 p.m. to a reported kidnapping at an apartment complex on Ortega Woods Drive.

Sheriff's Office Director Ron Lendvay said a 14-year-old girl was sitting in her mother's car outside her home -- listening to music and on the phone with a relative -- when a man with a bandanna over his face pointed a handgun at her, demanded money, pushed her over to the passenger side and drove off in the car with the girl still inside.

After driving about a mile, the man, who was later identified as Robert Bracewell, pulled over, pushed the girl from the car and continued driving, police said.

The family member who was on the phone with girl contacted her mother, who activated the OnStar navigation system in the car. Police used the satellite tracking system to located the vehicle.

When OnStar disabled the car, two officers blocked him about 9 p.m. at the intersection of San Juan Avenue and Lane Avenue South -- about 5 miles away from the apartment complex. 

"The suspect exited the vehicle with a firearm in his hand and did not listen to command to drop his weapon as he crossed the roadway; when he turned to officers with a gun in his hand, both officers opened fire and the suspect was struck," Lendvay said.

Lendvay said Officer B.J. Langston, a 3-year veteran of JSO, and Officer B.L. Jester, who's been on the force for more than two years, fired a combined 17 shots -- hitting Bracewell multiple times in the upper and lower body. It was both officers' first use of deadly force.

Bracewell, who was armed with a 9 mm handgun that had a 30-round magazine, did not shoot at the police, investigators said. Officers administered first aid until rescue arrived and transported Bracewell to the hospital, where he later died. 

According to records, in 2013-14, Bracewell served 14 months in prison for armed burglary and, in 2015-16, he served nine months in prison for burglary. His most recent arrest was in December, on charges of burglary and violating his probation. He got out of jail in March on time served.

The Sheriff's Office said no officers were hurt, and the two officers involved in the shooting were placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure during an open investigation. 

The teenage girl, who did not know Bracewell, was not injured physically, Lendvay said. She will be receiving counseling form a victim's advocate. 

"It appears to just be a crime of opportunity. The girl just happened to be in the parking lot and he happened to be there as well," Lendvay said. "I wish we could take it away and that it never happened, but unfortunately, it did. So we want to try to help the family deal with it the best we can."

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said people committing crimes of opportunity can have any number of motives. 

"Sometimes, they take them to maybe kidnap someone and commit a crime or to rob a bank or store, then ditch the car and get rid of it because it's not tied to them," Smith said. "There's so many things they may do."

Smith added that GPS technology on the car was invaluable. 

"If you do have a device on the car, police will be able to track it," he said. "That's what they did in this case and they found the car quite quickly."

According to News4Jax records, Monday evening's shooting is the sixth involving a JSO officer this year. The last shooting involving a Jacksonville sheriff's officer was late last month, and also happened on the Westside.

On July 25, police said, K-9 Officer Jeremy Mason was injured after a high-speed chase involving bank robber Michael Harris.

According to JSO, Harris forced a woman into a car at gunpoint, and Mason began pursuing that vehicle as Harris fired gunshots at him. Mason was shot in the face and is still recovering.