Police: Man arrested in shooting at Jacksonville Beach Taco Bell

1 hospitalized in critical condition after shooting in drive-thru, police say

By Jennifer Ready - Reporter, Allyson Henning - Reporter, Colette DuChanois - Web producer

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - A 34-year-old man was arrested in connection with a shooting early Monday morning at the Taco Bell in Jacksonville Beach that left a 27-year-old man critically injured, police said.

Wesley Jackson Jr. was booked about 9:40 a.m. into the Duval County jail on attempted murder and burglary charges, records show.

The Jacksonville Beach Police Department said officers were called about 2:15 a.m. to the shooting at the fast-food chain's location on Third Avenue and Third Street South.

According to an arrest report, prior to the shooting, Jackson and the 27-year-old, who did not know each other, were walking back to their vehicles from "a night of drinking" at downtown bars when they got into an argument.

"When you are impaired by alcohol, you aren't thinking logically," said News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson. "You're combative and argumentative and vulnerable to fall into any trap."

After both men left the area in separate directions, the report shows, Jackson was later in the drive-thru of the Taco Bell when he realized the 27-year-old was a passenger in the Honda Civic behind him and they got into another verbal altercation. A friend who was with the 27-year-old said things then got physical.

"I told them both that, you know, it's late. Now is not the time. We are all grown men. Let's just go about our business," the friend said. "And then, they didn't listen."

The arrest report stated Jackson got out of his Toyota 4Runner, walked over to the other vehicle and punched the 27-year-old while he was sitting in the Civic.

That's when, according to the report, the 27-year-old got out of the car and a physical altercation between the two men ensued. While Jackson was standing at the driver's side of his vehicle, the 27-year-old punched him and began to walk back to the Civic, the report said. Jackson then "reengaged" the man, pulled out a firearm and fired one shot, striking the 27-year-old in the torso area, according to the arrest report. His friend said the man collapsed onto the ground.

"I feel like my friend needed me because he could still be alive. There's a chance," the friend recounted. "So I grabbed a shirt out of my car. I grabbed something to stop the bleeding and then I immediately got on the phone and then I panicked a little bit because I had never seen something like this."

Police said the man was taken to a hospital in critical condition, but he is expected to recover. The friend told News4Jax that the man was still in the hospital as Monday afternoon, but he is able to walk. 

The arrest report said Jackson took off in his vehicle after the shooting, which the report noted was captured on Taco Bell's exterior surveillance camera system, and a "Be On The Lookout" was issued. 

An officer later noticed a vehicle, which matched the description of the one at the center of the BOLO, traveling west at a high rate of speed on J. Turner Butler Boulevard and stopped the vehicle, the report shows. Jackson was taken to the Police Department to be interviewed and was eventually arrested. 

Jefferson said the combination of people leaving the beach bars in the early morning hours and the fact that Taco Bell's Jacksonville Beach location is open until 3-4 a.m. can be dangerous. 

"Late night-early morning, alcohol-involved is not a good recipe for success. They got into an argument and things got out of hand," he said. "They are intoxicated and having been drinking all night. They aren't thinking logically or rationally, and everyone around could be a victim of gunfire if they were to get hit."

The friend told News4Jax that he had never felt unsafe at the beaches before early Monday morning. 

Jackson's bond for attempted murder was set at $500,000 . His charge for burglary was set at $75,000. His next hearing is scheduled for Nov. 6.

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