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Suspect in violent carjacking killed by Jacksonville police

Tony Smith fatally shot; Jamal Lincoln arrested, 2 others sought in carjacking

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One man was killed early Thursday morning in a police-involved shooting that stemmed from a brutal carjacking in which a second man was arrested and two others are being sought, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.

Tony Smith, 24, who was described by police as a documented gang member, was fatally shot by an officer at a Northwest Jacksonville apartment complex and Jamal Lincoln, 21, was arrested after a man was carjacked and beaten late Wednesday evening at a nearby car wash, JSO Director Ron Lendvay said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. 

According to police, Smith and Lincoln were part of a group of four men, at least one of whom had a handgun, that approached a 66-year-old man at the Star Wash Car Wash on Lem Turner Road just before 11 p.m. Wednesday, beat the man unconscious and left in his truck.

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Within the hour, officers were able to locate the truck using the vehicle's OnStar navigation system. Lendvay said Officer Rodney DeConti spotted the truck about 11:45 p.m. and then attempted to stop it at the Hilltop Village Apartments on West 45th Street -- about a mile away from the car wash.

That's where, according to police, all four men bailed out of the truck. DeConti followed Smith, who police believe was driving the truck, and chased him up a flight of stairs.

Lendvay said when Smith got to a third-floor landing, he made an unspecified threatening move, and DeConti fired one shot, hitting Smith, who died at the hospital.

"I can’t conclusively say at the moment what those movements were but something made him feel threatened that his safety was in danger," Lendvay said. "He gave the suspect verbal commands which were not followed."

UNCUT: JSO news conference on officer-involved shooting |
VIDEO: Police identify carjacking shot, killed

Smith had some of the carjacking victim’s belongings in his possession, but was not armed, Lendvay said. According to police, a handgun was found somewhere between where the truck was abandoned and the apartment building where the shooting took place.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office photo of the gun police say was recovered at the Hilltop Village Apartments.
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office photo of the gun police say was recovered at the Hilltop Village Apartments.

Lendvay said two other men were detained, one of whom was later determined not to have been involved and was released. The other man was Lincoln. He’s charged with carjacking and drug possession.

Lincoln just got out of prison in June, after serving a three-year stretch for possession of a firearm by a convicted juvenile delinquent.

Lincoln's mother, Veronica Lincoln, said she did the best she could raising her children.

"They were in church, so these were choices. They’re not raised like this," she said. "It’s frustrating to be in and out of court, and I’m still in and out of court."

Smith had been arrested seven times, including in August when he was arrested and charged with carrying a concealed firearm. He pleaded guilty last month and received 18-months probation. He was also arrested in 2014 and charged with carrying a concealed firearm and marijuana possession, pleaded guilty and spent 73 days in jail.

Smith's last arrest report listed Hilltop Village Apartments as his address. 

Previous booking photo of Tony Smith (left) and JSO booking photo of Jamal Lincoln (right)
Previous booking photo of Tony Smith (left) and JSO booking photo of Jamal Lincoln (right)

DeConti, a 10-year veteran of JSO, has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard protocol for police-involved shootings. Lendvay said this was DeConti's first shooting and he was not wearing a body camera at the time. 

The concise for DeConti shows he has only two flags in his jacket. In 2012, he got remedial training and informal counseling as the result of a traffic crash. In 2015, he got formal counseling for improper use of computer software.

The 66-year-old carjacking victim was hospitalized, but was later released and was back at home with family. His daughter told News4Jax that her father, who's a small business owner, was badly hurt but he's doing better and he's thankful to be alive. The family said the victim is still scared for his life and asked for his identity to be protected until the remaining men are arrested. 

Jim Tarle, who owns the car wash where it happened, was upset by the attack.

"I've never really had any problems. It's sad to think somebody almost got killed," Tarle said. "I feel really bad for the guy."

Lincoln's mother also wished the man a speedy recovery.

"I’m just sorry this happened to the man," she said. "I pray he’s going to pull through.”

As for those living at the Hilltop Village apartments, the overnight violence hit too close to home.

"I heard a real boom and I was like, 'Oh snap,'" a man, who wished to remain anonymous, told News4Jax. "When I saw the police, then I came back inside. I told the kids to be quiet and I turned the lights off. All the police kept coming and then I heard a 'pow' -- one shot and that was it."

The man said when he came out Thursday morning, he saw a truck crashed into a dumpster in the back of the complex.

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A woman who lives in the complex with her daughter and granddaughter said that after this incident, she wants out.

"I am moving," Betty Cleveland said. "This ain’t the first time this has happened out here. Every time I walk to the store I’ve got a look behind me and make sure nobody is behind me."

The State Attorney's Office will be assisting in the Sheriff's Office's investigation into the police-involved shooting. 

This was the second police-involved shooting in Jacksonville this year. The Sheriff's Office is on pace to have the fewest police-involved shootings in many years.


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