JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An alert citizen who flagged down a nearby officer helped stop a would-be robber Tuesday morning at a gas station in the Lake Forest area, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Sgt. T.G. Jones said a call came in just before 8 a.m. about a robbery in progress at the “On The Fly” gas station on Edgewood Avenue West at Bunker Hill Boulevard.
Officers responded and found a fellow officer already at the scene who had been alerted by someone to “a fight inside the store,” Jones said.
They said they saw the man inside the store drop a weapon that looked like a gun into a waste basket when he saw them coming. Jones said it appears that the weapon could be a pellet or plastic gun, but investigators were waiting for evidence techs to arrive and get a closer look.
“This case is a very specific case where he did have a gun, real or fake, it looked like a gun, it looked very real, and the officers were able to take him into custody without firing a shot, without doing anything other than challenging him because they got here in time,” Jones said.
He said the man obeyed the officers when they shouted through the door for him to get on the ground. They then came into the store and took him into custody without incident.
Several people were in the store at the time, but no one was injured, Jones said.
“The suspect wasn’t able to leave before we got here, so they were talking to him. He did go behind the register. He did get an unknown amount of money which he was going to take, but then he was unsuccessful,” Jones said.
He said without the concerned citizen who flagged down the nearby officer, the situation could have turned out much differently because that officer was the first to get to the scene.
“It’s very important that the community talks to us. Just like this happened today, somebody was willing to say, ‘There’s something going on there.’ They didn’t have to get involved. I don’t even know who they were. I think they kept walking. But if they don’t tell us who’s involved, we never will get here in time. We may walk up on it, but in most cases, we just need the community to help us,” Jones said. “That’s the main thing is that we get those notifications very quickly.”
The man was taken downtown for questioning.
Jones said detectives and evidence technicians were at the scene to see if he’s connected to any other robberies in the city.