FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – Now that adult arcades are closing in Jacksonville, attention is shifting to similar game rooms in nearby Nassau County where one business was the target of a violent robbery Wednesday.
Shortly before 5:30 a.m., the 8th Street Arcade near Fernandina Beach was robbed at gunpoint when a masked man walked inside, fired a round into the ceiling and then opened fire toward an employee as she and customers took cover, according to the Nassau County Sheriff's Office.
The sequence of events was captured by a surveillance camera. The grainy footage shows everyone inside scattering as gunshots ring out. The man then got away with some cash and no one was hurt.
Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper called the incident "surprising."
"We’ve had robberies before and some of the internet cafés in the county but no gunshots until this morning," Leeper said. "It's on our mind, knowing that they are eliminating them in Jacksonville and those that prey on those businesses down there may come up to other counties."
Wednesday's robbery follows an effort to shut down adult arcades in Jacksonville, where they have become magnets for crime in recent years. Among the arcades visited by code enforcement was one near Edgewood and Commonwealth avenues where a security guard was shot and killed in August.
Crimes targeting adult arcades aren't limited to Jacksonville. In fact, authorities estimate there have been seven robberies targeting these businesses in Nassau County since 2017, including an adult arcade in Callahan that was robbed at gunpoint in June.
"We are looking into the past history of crime in these businesses to see if there's some correlation to them being a nuisance, so to speak," the sheriff said.
News4Jax spoke with several customers at the Nassau County arcade, some of whom went to the arcade because their usual game rooms in Jacksonville had been closed.
"The problem that we are having is we take isolated incidents or stuff like this that happens and try to blanket it all and most of the times you just need to look at the area," said customer Claud Morton.
Anyone with any information can contact the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office at 904-225-5174 or First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.