LAKE CITY, Fla. – A Lake City police officer is recovering from surgery after he was shot early Tuesday while knocking on the door of a home that had been struck by bullets, authorities said.
The suspected gunman was arrested.
Officers were investigating reports of shots fired in the area of Webster Avenue and Northeast Jenkins Lane around 1 a.m. and found a home with visible bullet holes on the exterior. They were concerned someone inside the home had been shot, so they knocked on the door. After identifying themselves as police officers, shots were fired through the door from inside the home. Officer Remington “Cody” Chauncey was hit by at least one shot, police said.
The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team was called and Chauncey was taken to a hospital in Lake City. He was then transferred to Gainesville for additional medical treatment, police said. He was reported to be in stable condition.
Chauncey has been with the Lake City Police Department since April 2020. He had been an officer with the Live Oak Police Department before joining LCPD.
With the assistance of family members inside, police said, the shooter gave himself up after an hour-long standoff and was arrested. Police identified him as Antonio Jennings.
Jennings has been charged with aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He is being held without bond.
Police said additional charges may be added as the investigation continues.
“At this point, we’re still investigating and trying to determine what caused the original call to come in. We do know that the original call came out at the intersection here, which is right next door to where the home is located. But if whether it was actually in the road, whether it was from the vehicle, whether it was from a neighboring home -- that’s still being investigated,” said Sgt. Mike Lee, public information officer for the Police Department.
Sylvester Warren III, Jennings’ nephew, said officers could have done more during the well-being check to better identify themselves.
“I got a phone call from Chris, which is Tony’s brother. He said, ‘Hey, look ... my brother has shot,‘” Warren said. “He felt like someone was trying to home invade and it ended up being an officer. He said, ‘We need you to get over here. He wants you to come and walk him out if possible because he only trusts you to come in and get him because he thinks the police officers may kill him.‘ So I rushed over here, my lady friend and I, and when I got to the scene officers were very unwilling to let me assist in helping them get him out, they took alternative routes. Finally, a brother was able to communicate over the phone and get him out the house.”
Bodycam video released
Later Tuesday, police provided Chauncey’s body camera footage in which he can be heard banging on the door three times and twice announcing “Police Department.”
Two minutes later, a gunshot from inside the home penetrates the door and hits the officer.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson watched the video and immediately noticed something before the shot was fired.
“One of the things I saw that stood out was the officer appeared to be standing directly in front of the door. And I understand the officer was shot through the door. What we teach in the academy is that when you respond to a home or business, you never stand in front of a door or window if possible. Sometimes there are circumstance where you can’t help do it, but you shield yourself as much as you can,” Jefferson said.
Two of the three officers were uniformed and wearing clearly marked vests.
“There are weapons that can penetrate that particular vest, and, fortunately, I don’t think this went all the way through. It will slow a projectile down, but will sometimes that will still penetrate and leave scars and bruises,” Jefferson said.
Lee said two marked police cars were also present.
Warren, the suspect’s nephew, said he believes his uncle may have thought this was a home invasion.
”Why all the houses did not have a wellness check? Why that house was singled out? And why did you enter that house and you kick the front door in without a warrant and you start kicking on the second door with your back to it? And that’s how he was scared, thinking someone was home-invading him,” Warren said.
But the body camera video doesn’t show a door being kicked in and the officers can be heard on camera identifying themselves as law enforcement.
Officers did not return fire.
“If you can take cover, immediate cover, you don’t have to fire because you don’t know if there are children inside. You don’t know what the circumstances are,” Jefferson said.
The Police Department said that because of what Warren was telling media outlets, it wanted to release the body camera footage for the sake of transparency.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.