Man accused of stabbing firefighters has criminal past

Florida records show Tony Harris has been in prison 4 years

By Ashley Spicer - Reporter, anchor, Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 38-year-old man released from prison last year is in jail again, accused of slashing two Jacksonville firefighters responding to a medical call Tuesday night.

Tony Harris is facing two counts of aggravated battery on a firefighter and resisting arrest after he was accused of attacking first the firefighter tending to him in the back of a rescue unit in Springfield about 10 p.m., then attacking a second firefighter who came to assist.

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue interim Chief Keith Powers said the first firefighter, Capt. Latorrence Norris, could have died if they had not been close to the hospital and a UF Health Jacksonville security guard had not transported Norris to the emergency room on a golf cart. 

The second firefighter, Engineer Vinnie Harper, suffered a deep cut to his thigh.

Norris remains in intensive care Wednesday, but his condition has stabilized. Harper was treated and released.

A judge set bond for Harris at just over $1 million.

According to state records, Harris has been convicted of child abuse, drug dealing, assault and car theft and served four prison sentences since 2002. He was most recently released in April 2018.

Both Powers and Curry said they would work with law enforcement and prosecutors to seek the maximum punishment for Harris.

Florida statutes define any battery on a police officer or firefighter as third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison or five years of probation and a $5,000 fine. For an aggravated battery on a first responder, the offense is upgraded to a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a minimum mandatory prison sentence of five years. 

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