Teen shot at NW Jacksonville community center

Community frustrated by continuing violence in the area

By Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 14-year-old was shot at a community center in Northwest Jacksonville on Friday. He is in life-threatening condition at UF Health Jacksonville.

Police said around 2 p.m. James Jerimiah Thomas took a mandatory swimming break at the Johnnie Walker Community Center pool, and when he went out to the parking lot, he was shot by suspects who had pulled up in a car.

The suspects never exited the vehicle, police said. Doctors told police Thomas is not expected to survive his injuries.

"I've got detectives who are canvassing the surrounding homes in the neighborhood to see if they could identify what we're hearing is a light blue car," said Sgt. Dan Janson with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. "I don't even have a make or model number unfortunately. To see if they saw anything leaving at a high rate of speed that matches that description."

Detectives were interviewing witnesses and would not confirm any of the rumors going through the frightened and frustrated neighborhood.

Lloyd Washington, president of the Grand Park Civic Association, said he speaks for his community, and he has his suspicions.

"It was a Facebook issue, and it started from that to shootings and payback time," Washington said.

He said he's frustrated because he believed the community had been making progress against violence.

"I assumed -- and that's worst thing you can do -- assumed we had started making steps in the right direction," Washington said. "When I got the phone call, all I could do was drop my head."

Several people near the community center said they think the violence will continue, even though they want it to stop.

"The main thing is, they need something to do," Washington said. "They need jobs. They need education. They need everything to get them involved in something other than this mass murder."

The prevailing thought among the community members was that Friday's shooting was connected to a shooting earlier this week of a 16-year-old near Cleveland Road.

The homicide sergeant at the scene Friday said he just doesn't know yet if that's true.

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