Man, 24, shot by police charged in CVS robbery, shooting

Police trying to connect suspect to Mojo killing

By Tarik Minor - Anchor, I-TEAM reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 24-year-old man shot by Jacksonville police Tuesday afternoon is charged with armed robbery, attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in connection with a robbery and shooting at CVS in Avondale early Monday morning.

Annie Smith, chief of investigations for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, said investigators are also working to connect Herman Pickens (pictured, below) to a fatal robbery and shooting at Mojo no.4 Urban BBQ Whiskey Bar around the same time. He is not yet charged in that killing.

Smith said investigators are still processing evidence from that scene.

"As soon as we have confirmation and we can charge him with it, we will," Smith said.

Robert Sutton, 54, was shot and killed at Mojo while doing cleaning work with another man.

A short time later is when police said Pickens robbed a nearby CVS and shot an employee, whose head was grazed by a bullet. That employee has since been released from a hospital.

Smith said Pickens was in possession of a Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun loaded with 11 rounds (pictured, below) when he was shot twice by an undercover SWAT officer. Smith said Pickens had the gun concealed in a black bag and had his hand in the bag, and when he turned and faced officers, Detective M.E. Campanero fired at him. Smith said the gun will be tested for ballistics in relation to the Mojo killing.

Undercover officers had set up to do surveillance at an apartment complex Tuesday afternoon in reference to the CVS robbery, and while they were waiting, they obtained a warrant for Pickens' arrest.

Smith said the officers saw Pickens getting into a car, and they followed him. She said he eventually took evasive action and crashed his car into an undercover SWAT vehicle in the 6400 block of San Juan Avenue at Jammes Road about 3 p.m.

According to Smith, Pickens jumped out of the back seat of the car and began running behind the building next to a Sunoco gas station and a Mr. Dragon Chinese Restaurant. Officers were pursuing Pickens, and Campanero was directly behind him as he came around the far side of the restaurant. Officers ordered Pickens to surrender, and Pickens was carrying a black bag, clutching it close to his chest with his hand inside it, Smith said.

She said Pickens refused to comply and forced his way into the business by shouldering the door. As he entered, the detectives were behind him ordering him to comply, Smith said. She said there was a civilian in the business at the time.

Pickens turned toward the officer with his hand inside the black bag, and Campanero fired twice, striking the suspect. Police later found the gun in the bag.

Jack Shi said he had just stepped outside of the Mr. Dragon restaurant to walk to his car when Pickens ran in.

"We were so lucky," Shi said. "Just one minute ago I went outside. If he had run into the restaurant earlier, one minute, he might have got me."

Pickens underwent surgery Tuesday for life-threatening injuries and remained hospitalized Wednesday. His condition was not known.

Smith said tips from the community based on a surveillance photo from CVS (pictured, left) allowed investigators to identify Pickens, and they were then able to find him.

"Recently, we've had several high-profile cases in Jacksonville, and those have been solved with the help of tips from the community," Smith said. "We wouldn't have been successful, I don't think, in solving these crimes as quickly if we hadn't had the tips from the citizens that we've had on these high-profile cases lately."

Pickens has a lengthy arrest record. He was arrested three times in 2008 on charges of theft of a firearm, domestic battery on a pregnant woman, and drug possession. He was arrested once each year after that on charges of burglary and dealing in stolen property, trespassing, burglary, and possession of cocaine and marijuana.

Another person in the car pursued by officers Tuesday was questioned and released.

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