I-TEAM: Video shows ATF agents raid Jacksonville home, shots fired

No one hit, 1 arrested on weapons charges

New video shows federal agents opening fire in an Arlington neighborhood while serving a search warrant for a weapons dealing investigation.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New video shows federal agents opening fire in an Arlington neighborhood while serving a search warrant for a weapons dealing investigation.

The News4Jax I-TEAM obtained the video from the Thursday incident in the Woodland Acres community from a neighbor who asked to remain anonymous.

Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said they were doing a public safety operation when shots were fired.

Investigators with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, brought in as an outside agency to investigate the incident, said the man federal agents were investigating pointed a gun at them as they served a search warrant.

However, a man who was in front of the home told News4JAX that didn’t happen and the agents never identified themselves.

Video from a front-mounted security camera outside a home on Cocoa Avenue shows the agents pulling up in a van and several SUVs. The sliding door of the van is slightly open. They stop at the home next door. Almost immediately, a dozen gunshots are heard. Moments later, agents can be heard yelling for the men to get on the ground and stay still.

The camera angle does not show the three men at the home, therefore it doesn’t show whether one of them pointed a gun or not.

No one was hurt, and the agents detained the three men at the home — two were outside and the other was inside.

The News4JAX I-TEAM obtained reports showing JSO arrested Darnell Rice, 27, on charges of aggravated assault on law enforcement. The Department of Justice had already filed a complaint on charges of unlawful possession and transfer of a machinegun. He’s being held in federal custody and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Darnell Rice (Jacksonville Sheriff's Office)

His booking report shows he worked as an armed security guard. The federal complaint accuses him of illegally selling a Glock handgun with a modification switch that turns it into a machine gun. The federal agents said he sold it to a confidential informant for $1,800.

I-TEAM sources said weapons he sold were linked to local violent crimes.

The other two men were questioned and released without charges.

“We didn’t know who they were initially, and they just started firing shots,” one of the men told News4JAX.

He said he was working on a car at Rice’s house and was nearly struck by ATF bullets.

He’s now accusing them of being reckless, saying he was caught in the middle of an investigation that didn’t involve him. Despite the account from investigators, he insists no one pointed a gun at agents and that the weapons were inside the home.

“They’re supposed to be here to protect and serve but at that particular time I felt like they weren’t doing their job in my life was in jeopardy,” he said, on condition of anonymity. “I actually thought I was going to die that day.”

The I-TEAM took his complaint to ATF supervisors.

“ATF is working with our local law enforcement partners to fully account for the events that occurred last Thursday during an ATF led public safety investigation,” Special Agent in Charge Craig W. Saier said in an email Monday. “Our agency and law enforcement partners will continue to review evidence related to this incident. We cannot respond to statements offered by potential witnesses at this time, as this is an on-going investigation.”

On Tuesday, after obtaining the surveillance video showing part of the incident, agents said they couldn’t respond: “ATF is prohibited by law from providing any further information at this time as this is an on-going investigation.”

About the Author:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.