JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An Amazon delivery driver who thought he was being followed around Jacksonville wasn’t imagining things. His suspicions were confirmed when he was carjacked at gunpoint on the Westside.
The incident played out about 2:30 p.m. July 31 outside a home on Cranberry Lane where the driver had dropped off a delivery. After returning to his van, he told police, he was ambushed by two men, one with a handgun with an extended magazine, who told him they were taking the delivery van.
Part of the crime was captured on a neighbor's surveillance video. In the video, a grey sedan can be seen pulling up next to the van after the driver gets out to drop off the package. The footage shows a man getting into the van and driving away out of the cameras' view. The grey car followed.
One neighbor heard the hound of tires screeching from inside his home. When he saw the delivery man pacing outside, he didn't realize what happened. But once he figured it out, he regretted the fact that he didn't pick up on what was going on sooner.
"I must have missed it by two minutes," Wright said. “Now I wish I had those two minutes back. I could have done something about it."
But the suspects' getaway was short-lived. Once police arrived, the driver gave them descriptions of the men and vehicles and said his cell phone was pinging from McGirts Creek Park – about a mile away.
An officer arriving at the park immediately spotted the van and noticed two men walking away from it. In his report, he noted that both men began running as his patrol car wheeled around. But after cutting them off with his car, the officer detained one of the men while the other got away, the report said.
Kalen Rashaun Williams, 21, was identified by the delivery driver as one of the men who carjacked him, according to the report. Williams was booked into the Duval County jail on a felony charge of carjacking with a firearm. Jail logs show he remains in custody without bond.
According to Amazon, delivery drivers routinely receive safety tips and are instructed to dial 911 at once in case of an emergency. If they ever feel unsafe, the company recommends they find a safe, public place or return to their delivery station.
“Safety is Amazon’s top priority,” a spokesperson said. “This is a terrible incident and we are grateful the driver is safe. Amazon is cooperating with law enforcement and our delivery service partner to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
These types of crimes targeting delivery drivers are happening nationwide, including cases in Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Washington. Earlier this year, another Jacksonville Amazon driver was carjacked at gunpoint. The stolen van in that case ended up on its side on I-95 after a chase.
News4Jax Crime and Safety Expert Ken Jeffeerson said delivery drivers need to stay vigilant.
"This kind of crime is trending because they know Amazon right now is one of the leading package delivery companies," he said. "They are out every day, all day, even into the night, and the bad guys know this, so they are pinpointing these drivers and pinpointing these routes."
"Unless the drivers become proactive with being totally aware of their surroundings, it will continue to happen," added Jefferson.