JSO: Robber trying to escape thwarted by customers with guns

Man encounters armed shoppers at Jacksonville's River City Marketplace

By Scott Johnson - Reporter, Dana Maule - Associate Producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A robbery at River City Marketplace forced shoppers to defend themselves Friday afternoon when the robber tried to carjack them to escape, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. 

Jacksonville police said a 36-year-old man put multiple people at risk after he stole a cash register from the Walmart at the Northside shopping center.

Police said Christopher Hill ran out to the parking lot after ripping an entire Walmart cash register off the counter, but then he ran into trouble in the form of Army veteran Michael Reardon.

Police said Hill approached Reardon, who was sitting in a pickup truck in front of Supercuts hair salon, and pulled a knife on him, cutting Reardon on the hands and legs.

“After I started blocking his cuts with the knife, I called her, because she was walking away; called her back,” Reardon said of alerting his wife to the attack. “At the time when I called her, I reached in between my glove box and my console, between my seats, reached down and got my weapon and brandished it for him. He was like, ‘Don’t shoot me.’ I was like, 'Then get out of here.'”

After Reardon (pictured) pulled out his pistol and pointed it at Hill, the would-be carjacker ran toward a nearby Starbucks, looking for another victim, according to JSO.

Michael Reardon

“These guys can talk about banning assault rifles and banning guns, but when it comes and happens to them, they’re going to wish they had one,” said Reardon, who was wearing an AR-15 T-shirt when he spoke with News4Jax on Monday. “I’m glad I had (my gun) on me.”

At the Starbucks, Hill approached a woman in her car at the drive-thru, got into the passenger seat and said that someone was chasing him.

The woman got out of her car, reached into the trunk for a gun and pointed it at Hill until he ran off, police said.

Hill eventually ran into the Supercuts and locked himself in a bathroom, according to police. Workers at the salon told NewsJax that Hill was only in the bathroom a few minutes before police arrived.

Police said Hill came out of the bathroom with the knife in his pocket.

Hill is being held on $91,000 bond on charges of strong-arm robbery, aggravated battery and attempted carjacking. The register was returned to the Walmart.

Hill pleaded guilty to burglary, resisting an officer without violence and possession of a controlled substance in a 2017 incident in which he was found inside a woman's parked car with a knife. He was sentenced to three months in jail.

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