JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man is in the hospital after he fired at officers on Jacksonville’s Northside and was wounded when they returned fire early Saturday morning, the Sheriff’s Office said.
According to Chief T.K. Waters, officers stopped a car about 1 a.m. with five people inside for a red light violation and the car pulled into the parking lot of Big Chief Tire Shop on Lem Turner Road.
During the stop, officers said, they smelled marijuana inside the car and noticed the man in the front passenger seat wearing “body armor,” which made the officers suspicious.
“(The smell of marijuana) is probable cause to talk with everybody in the car. That’s probable cause to ask everybody in the car to safely step out so they can search the car and search the individuals,” News4JAX crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said. “Once they noticed that a passenger is wearing body armor, and he is not related to law enforcement or in a law enforcement capacity, of course, they’re going to engage that person: ‘Why are you, as a civilian, wearing body armor? What are you up to?’”
The man refused to get out of the car when asked by officers, who then pulled him from the car, according to Waters. Then officers noticed he had a gun and a magazine that was “sticking out pretty far,” Waters said.
According to officers, when they attempted to handcuff the man, he swung at officers and ran away. While fleeing, he fired shots at police, who returned fire, Waters said.
“To get out of a car and strike an officer, you are asking for a fight, you are asking for jail time, you are asking for whatever consequences may come after that,” said Jefferson, a longtime veteran of JSO. “To take out a gun and fire it at the officers, you are asking for a death wish.”
The shootout continued as the man ran, stretching into the middle of Lem Turner Road -- until the man was wounded, Waters said. More than 30 evidence markers were visible in the middle of Lem Turner Road.
Waters said the man was taken into custody and transported to a hospital with serious injuries. No officers were injured during the incident.
“A person running from the police, especially shooting, if they’re running from the police, they’re not running in a straight line. They’re trying to zig and zag and duck and dodge and things of that nature, so it could have been worse,” Jefferson said. “When you’ve got five people in a car, you know one has a gun, but you’re wondering if anybody else has a gun. This person is shooting at you. And if others have a gun, will they shoot at you as well? This could have been much worse.”
The intersection of Dunn Avenue and Lem Turner Road will be closed for some time because of the investigation.
Of the others in the car, the driver was detained at the scene. The three in the back seat ran off, but two were caught not far away and detained. The fifth person from the car is still on the run, Waters said.
The State Attorney’s Office will conduct an independent investigation of the officer-involved shooting. JSO is also doing its own investigation The crime scene site stretches several blocks.
“The police have to be very methodical with this type of investigation because everything matters. They’ve got to interview the officers, find out how many times they fired their weapons. They’re going to try to determine how many times the perpetrator fired his weapon. They’re looking for all those shell casings. They’re looking for everything to be accountable to what’s being said. So they’ve got to match all of the evidence,” Jefferson said. “That’s why this is such a large crime scene. They want to cover every aspect of it.”
If you have any information about the incident, you are asked to contact JSO at 904-630-0500 or CrimeStoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.