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Sheriff: Deputies kill armed man during Amelia Island standoff

25-year-old fired at deputies after barricading himself in condo, sheriff says

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. – Nassau County deputies shot and killed a 25-year-old man early Wednesday morning after he opened fire on them during a standoff, according to Sheriff Bill Leeper.

No deputies were injured during the incident, Leeper said.

Deputies said they were called to the Amelia Island Surf and Racquet Club Condominiums on Amelia Island Parkway just before midnight after a man, later identified as Jason Raffaeli, said three men armed with guns were in his sixth-floor unit.

UNCUT: Sheriff Bill Leeper holds news conference on standoff

A Nassau County sergeant who arrived at the scene with four deputies talked to Raffaeli on his cellphone, trying to get him to come out of the condo, Leeper said.

Raffaeli said he had a loaded .45-caliber handgun and refused to come out, barricading himself in a bathroom, Leeper said.

After an hour of trying to talk Raffaeli out of the condo, deputies called for Special Response Team members trained to handle standoffs, Leeper said.

The deputies said that before the SRT members showed up, they heard several gunshots inside the condo. Deputies and SRT members then tried unsuccessfully to contact Raffaeli again and decided to break in the door to force him out with gas, Leeper said.

Deputies said Raffaeli suddenly appeared in the doorway with a handgun, and they told him to drop the weapon. Leeper said Raffaeli refused and moved back inside the condo, then reappeared and said, "Tell my daddy I love him, and make sure you shoot me in the head."

Deputies said Raffaeli then fired at them, and three members of the SRT team armed with rifles shot him several times.

He died at the scene.

"I don’t know what was in the individual's mind, but he should have known that he was going to get shot if he shot at an officer," Leeper said.

Leeper said he didn't know how many shots deputies fired, but that it appeared Raffaeli only shot once. He said the incident ended about 3½ hours after deputies first arrived at the condo.

Neighbors said they weren't concerned, despite the violent encounter.

"I view it as an isolated incident," said Robert Long, who's lived in the area for 24 years. "It's very unusual for this area."

Raffaeli had prior drug and gun charges in Connecticut and was shot multiple times in July 2016 in a gunfight, according to authorities in Stamford.

Raffaeli's father, who lives in New York, declined to comment on the overnight incident, saying he was still learning details from investigators.

Leeper said deputies had been called to the condo before for a domestic dispute because Raffaeli was arguing with a female friend in November. He wanted the woman and her child to leave his condo, which they eventually did, Leeper said. It's unclear if that incident had any connection to the overnight standoff. 

Leeper said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting. The FDLE report will be reviewed by the State Attorney's Office once the investigation is complete.

The three SRT team members who shot Raffaeli -- Sgt. Brian Blackwell and Deputies Dallas Palecek and Scott Kelly -- will be on administrative leave until they are cleared to come back to work.

Blackwell has been with the sheriff's office over eight years, Palecek more than nine years and Kelly over 10 years.