Jacksonville sheriff: Vest saves life of officer shot

A veteran Jacksonville police officer's life was likely saved by body armor during a shooting in northwest Jacksonville. The officer was helping Drug Enforcement Agents serve a warrant at a home on Rutledge Pearson Drive off Moncrief Road when that officer was shot in the chest.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A police officer was shot Monday morning while assisting the Drug Enforcement Administration in serving a high-risk search warrant in a neighborhood off Moncrief Road, authorities said.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office SWAT team member was released from the hospital within hours and is recovering at home, Sheriff Mike Williams said.

Williams said the veteran officer was hit several times, but the shots landed on his ballistics vest, and the officer managed to return fire.

“The vest saved his life today. No doubt about it,” Williams said. “He received some minor injuries, and obviously there is a significant amount of trauma that occurs even when you do get shot in the vest."

The officer is not being named at this time to allow time for all his family members to be notified.

The incident happened just before 8 a.m. at a house on Rutledge Pearson Drive, off Ken Knight Drive, not far from Ribault High School. Williams said that the SWAT team announced from a loudspeaker it would be serving the narcotics warrant, and during the execution of the warrant, several shots were fired from inside the house.

The type of weapon used is still under investigation, Williams said.

The sheriff said two people -- a man and a woman -- who were in the house were detained without any additional incidents. One or both could be charged with the attempted murder of a police officer.

Crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said there’s a good reason why a police SWAT unit was asked to serve a warrant.

“When you ask for the SWAT team, you’re talking about a high-profile takedown," Jefferson said. “It’s not just your regular knock-and-enter type of thing.”

Jefferson said this is an investigation that could involve multiple people and locations.

“The fact that the DEA was there lets us know that it’s a federal case that they are building, so it not just your regular street crimes with drugs,” Jefferson said. “Whenever the DEA is involved it’s a big case, a federal case. There could be other things linked to it -- other people linked to it. So when the feds get involved, it’s much bigger than a local arrest."

The sheriff said SWAT officers spend 20-30% of their on-duty time training to prepare them for high-risk situations.

There is also much that happens before DEA agents serve a warrant to search a home for narcotics. Days before an operation is executed, agents meet to discuss how they will conduct the raid and the intel they have gathered about the person they are going after.

The shooting happened Monday on Rutledge Pearson Dr. near Ribault High School while the DEA served a warrant.

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