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Former NFL player Jabar Gaffney on 72-hour psychiatric hold

Jacksonville police detain Gaffney after call to gated community Friday night

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Former Raines Vikings, Florida Gator and NFL wide receiver Jabar Gaffney spent the weekend undergoing a mandatory mental health evaluation after police say he took pills and threatened to harm himself while holding a gun.

Heavily armed police responded Friday night to a rental home in the gated Highland Glen community after Gaffney's girlfriend reported he was making suicidal threats, according to a report obtained Monday from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

The woman told officers she saw Gaffney taking pills while they were on a FaceTime call. She also said he had a gun and had threatened to shoot himself if anyone came to the house.

Witnesses told police that responding in force to the home in the neighborhood off Beach and Hodges boulevards that they had heard a shot fired inside the home. Video and still photos the I-TEAM obtained of the incident showed officers with rifles out, telling neighbors to stay indoors.

According to the report, after he was taken from the house, Gaffney told officers he “drank one drink and took two sleeping pills," adding that he did “not want to kill himself and his girlfriend is crazy.”

Investigating officers wrote that Gaffney declined several offers for help from firefighters at the scene. Police took him to the Mental Health Resource Center on the Southside for a Baker Act hold, which under state law allows him to be detained for 72 hours.

The report also said that as police arrived at the center with Gaffney, he became ill and was sweating profusely.  As officers took him out of the patrol car, he vomited on the ground, but refused medical attention.

The incident happened while Gaffney is out on bond on a charge of criminal mischief. He is accused of vandalizing former NFL star Lito Sheppard's car in Jacksonville Beach over the summer. That charge came a year after Gaffney was charged with domestic battery.

Last Thursday, Gaffney turned out a plea deal in the criminal mischief case.

News4Jax contacted Gaffney's attorney, Seth Schwartz, about Friday night's detention.

"I apologize, but I’m unable to comment at this time. If that changes, I’ll let you know," Schwartz texted the I-TEAM

We asked local defense attorney Gene Nichols if Gaffney could now have his bond revoked.

"It could if he committed a crime that night," Nichols said. "When an individual is out on bond, they have a requirement to come back to court and they have a statutory requirement to not commit a crime."

Nichols, who is not affiliated with the case, noted that one of the terms of the plea agreement prosecutors offered included a mental health evaluation and any recommended treatment.

"So clearly the state and the defense have been aware that this gentleman has something going on. What it is we are just going to have to wait and find out," Nichols said.

One of Gaffney's neighbors in the Highland Glen community told News4Jax that he is highly regarded and he's been very friendly since moving in. She added that the neighborhood feels very protective of him and she, in particular, never thought he would harm anyone, hopes he gets the help he needs, then returns back home to be supported.

About the Authors:

Lynnsey Gardner is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning investigative reporter and fill-in anchor for The Local Station.