ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Nine people are wanted for questioning in an incident Thursday night involving stolen cars and guns, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.
St. Johns County deputies released surveillance images of the several individuals sought for questioning after they said two men were seen running from a stolen car Thursday evening at the Gate gas station at the corner of U.S. 1 and County Road 210.
Three handguns were left in the Ford Taurus, but during the search, deputies heard four or five gunshots coming from a warehouse complex nearby, according to the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.
Deputies, a K-9 officer and a helicopter searched the area, but the hunt was suspended with no one found.
"There were police cars running back-and-forth right past my house. I live right here on U.S. 1 and a half mile up the road, so I could see most of the actual scene from my driveway," said Wayne Francis, a sales manager at a business located in the warehouse complex. "It’s surprising actually to see something like this happen in this area. Here it’s, kind of, a really low crime area -- a lot more development and building. so it kind of took a lot of people by surprise."
Another car reported stolen out of Baker County was spotted in the area, but only the one was recovered. The Sheriff's Office said two of the guns were reported stolen -- one from Jacksonville and one from Baker County. Deputies were working to trace where the third gun was from.
Deputies were hoping to get and release surveillance photos of the men so the public could help authorities identify them. They are asking anyone who sees or hears anything unusual in the area to call 911.
Authorities were first alerted to stolen cars in the county by St. Johns County's license-plate reader cameras. The Sheriff's Office said that between January through November, the technology has allowed deputies to solve hundreds of crimes, including:
- 81 stolen cars
- 141 arrests made
- 212 felony cases cleared