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Clay County Sheriff: Hours-long standoff ends after suspect takes his own life

Authorities: St. Johns County death linked to Clay County SWAT standoff

Neighbors are in shock after a nearly 12-hour standoff with SWAT ends with a man dead.
Neighbors are in shock after a nearly 12-hour standoff with SWAT ends with a man dead.

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – The man who barricaded himself inside a Fleming Island home after crashing into its garage Sunday morning has taken his own life, according to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.

A SWAT team worked for several hours to negotiate with the driver, who refused to come out of the house, Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook said.

Southbound traffic on Country Side Drive and Summit Ridge Road was shut down, and Cook said nearby houses were evacuated.

Cook said neighbors called 911 around 9 a.m. Sunday to report a potential burglary in progress. She said that when deputies arrived, they found a vehicle that had crashed through a house and a suspect ran inside.

The sheriff said around noon that they believed the driver of the vehicle was still inside the house.

“He refused to come out, so we have SWAT and negotiators here trying to negotiate a safe, ending to this situation,” Cook said.

Sheriff Cook said the driver is not the owner of the home. She said the homeowner was out of state at the time of the incident but was returning to Clay County.

Shortly before 5 p.m., deputies were still working to get the man out of a bathroom in the second floor of the house. Cook said he had been firing off shots in the home.

“Knowing that he is armed and that he is firing shots off, we are going to be utilizing gas,” Cook said. “We’re going to be introducing gas inside of the house in an effort to get him to go ahead and come out before anyone else is hurt or there is any other damage.”

In a press conference at 7 p.m., Sheriff Cook said after shots were heard and negotiators could no longer communicate with the man, the SWAT team entered the bathroom. That’s when they found the suspect dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, she said.

CCSO says they are working on confirming the suspect’s identity.

Sheriff Cook says investigators worked throughout the day in cooperation with the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office because the barricaded man was a person of interest in connection to an incident in St. Johns County.

In St. Johns County, authorities say the death of a woman in the northwest part of the county early Sunday morning is believed to be related to the SWAT standoff Sunday in Clay County.

A St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson told News4Jax that the agency received a call around 8:30 a.m. Sunday from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office to do a welfare check on a woman in the northwest part of St. Johns County.

The spokesperson said deputies went to conduct the check, entered the home and found the body of a woman.

“We believe this to be a domestic violence incident and related to the active situation in Clay County,” the spokesperson said. “Our investigation is underway.”

I thought there was like a bomb or something for all the activity here, said witness Bill Allen. “It’s unbelievable to see something like this happen in this neighborhood, and it goes to show you it can happen anywhere.”

News4Jax Crime and Safety Expert Ken Jefferson said there is most likely a connection between the woman in the house and the man driving the car.

“This person inside the house, more than likely is the key to connecting those dots,” said Jefferson.

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