JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Police are searching for a murder suspect who triggered an hourslong SWAT situation Thursday at an Arlington home.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said a current homicide investigation led to a murder warrant being issued for 18-year-old Oneil Exantus, who police said knows about the warrant and should be considered armed and dangerous.
Police said a SWAT team tried to locate Exantus at his Arlington home Thursday but was unsuccessful.
Neighbors told News4Jax that JSO blocked off the area about 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. after the SWAT team was called to a home on Shady Oak Drive, which is the address listed for Exantus on a 2018 arrest report.
During the incident, officers could be seen lining both sides of the street with SWAT and K-9 teams, and SWAT members could be heard talking over a loudspeaker.
"I could constantly hear them over the intercom saying, 'Oneil, come out. We don’t want this to escalate. Oneil, you need to leave your house,'" said one neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous.
But neighbors said it turned out no one was inside the house.
The SWAT team cleared out quickly around 3 p.m. and when News4Jax was able to get a look at the area, we saw a homeowner falling to the ground, clearly distraught over the damage to her home. The brick house had several windows smashed in and the front yard was ripped up.
One man, who'd been evacuated during the incident, said that neighbors gathered to help board up the woman's windows. The woman tearfully told News4Jax that she has good neighbors.
“I actually was hurt, because I’ve been here in this neighborhood for seven years," said Jamey Dames, who lives across from the woman. "I know the family and to come see the house like this, and I know how hard -- she is an independent woman, takes care of her kids and her family, and to come home to see her house like this, it actually hurt me.”
Dames said JSO evacuated him soon after the SWAT team arrived and he was disappointed to return and find his neighbor's home damaged.
After police announced they had been searching for Exantus, News4Jax went back to the home to ask the people there if Exantus currently lived there. They chose not to comment.
Anyone with information about Exantus' whereabouts is asked to call the Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward of up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477).
As the situation appeared to be winding down, Duval County Public Schools posted to social media at 3 p.m. Thursday that students who normally walk home from Lake Lucina Elementary School, including students bused to the school as a hub bus stop, will be held at the school until a parent is able to pick them up or the situation is resolved.
Shortly before 4 p.m., DCPS updated to say they had been given the all-clear to allow students to walk home from Lake Lucina Elementary. Parents and guardians could still pick up their children at the school if they chose to do so. DCPS said school police and staff would remain at the school until every child had left.