Police: Man uses pepper spray to steal car, rob liquor store

Man captured after fleeing traffic stop, crashing into pole, JSO says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 44-year-old man was taken into custody Wednesday after he used pepper spray in the theft of a car and then the robbery of a liquor store, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.

Police at the scene told News4Jax that the man went to Florida Auto Online, a used-car dealership off Beach Boulevard, about 3 p.m., pretended to buy a car, used pepper spray on an employee and then stole a silver Chevrolet Impala.

Katie Blanchard, who works next door, said she saw the employee recovering from the pepper spray.

“He was just pouring water and trying to get his eyes cleaned," she said.

About 5:30 p.m., police said, the man went to Classic Wine and Spirits liquor store on Atlantic Boulevard at Hodges Boulevard, used pepper spray on the clerk and took off with money.

Shortly after, police said, the man was caught after taking off from a traffic stop, throwing money out the car window and crashing into a pole at Atlantic Boulevard and St. Johns Bluff Road, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The man, whose name has not been released, was reportedly unhurt. Officers described him as being homeless.

Blanchard said she hopes the man will now be off the streets for good. 

"No sane person would, you know, steal a car, pepper-spray multiple people and rob a liquor store. People like that shouldn't be out here," she said. "It's Jacksonville, though. It's sadly not surprising."

Police said the employees who were pepper-sprayed at the car dealership and the liquor store were OK.

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