GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – The Green Cove Springs Police Department announced on Sunday it will review how it responded to a hostage situation that was occurring within the vicinity of the city’s Christmas parade on Saturday night.
“Our department is aware of some concerns expressed on social media related to patrol vehicles responding to the scene while the parade was still occurring,” a lengthy post on social media reads in part. “Rest assured that any concerns our citizens have translate (sic) into concerns we have. If any officers’ actions were unreasonable, they will be properly addressed.”
A police department spokesperson said Sunday it conducts after-action investigation after every major incident it responds to in order to see what could be done better. As of right now, there are no allegations of wrongdoing, the spokesman said.
Green Cove Springs Police, Clay County Sheriff’s Office and SWAT were called to the Speedway gas station on US 17 and State Road 16 just after 7 p.m. Saturday night, around the time a Christmas parade in the city was winding down. The clerk told deputies a man and woman were arguing outside and then went into the bathroom.
Police said the man, now identified as 44-year-old Lancy L. Keenon of Palatka, held the woman hostage inside the bathroom for more than four hours. Deputies closed down portions of the roads surrounding the station while SWAT team members and negotiators spoke to the man.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, a member of the SWAT team came face-to-face with Keenon and shot him. Kennon was then taken to the hospital and into police custody.
The woman who was being held hostage was rescued and is cooperating with detectives, according to Sheriff Cook.
No civilians or bystanders were injured during the standoff or police response, but commenters on social media voiced complaints about how fast officers were driving through the parade route to respond to the situation and for officers having their guns drawn near children.
It’s also not clear if paradegoers were told what was happening or if public safety information was being communicated with the crowd. Several posts on social media did alert the public to road closures in real-time.
The 2021 Green Cove Springs Christmas Parade was well attended Saturday evening. Officers estimated this year’s parade “may have been the largest in the city’s history.”
In recent weeks, security plans for Christmas parades across the country were reviewed and bolstered after terror struck a city Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Authorities said six people were killed and over 60 were injured when a man driving an SUV ran over parade attendees and performers. How those who were struck fared depended on where each person or group was positioned in the parade as the SUV barreled forward.
However, despite those locally with concerns about the Green Cove Springs Police response, hundreds of commenters came to the defense of the department with many writing thanks for how officers put their lives at risk to keep the city safe.
News4JAX has left a message with GCSP and will update this story as soon as we hear back.