JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two Jacksonville sheriff's officers responding to a report of a suicidal person at a Westside home late Friday night were shot and injured, one of them critically, in an exchange of gunfire. The suspect was shot by police and died, JSO Director Mike Bruno said during a media briefing.
At last check, one officer was in critical condition and the other officer was in stable condition, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said.
Just before 11 p.m., Bruno said, four to five officers responded to an attempted suicide call at a home on Seaboard Avenue near Timuquana Road, where there were three victims inside who had retreated to a back bedroom for their safety.
When the officers arrived at the house, they heard gunfire and believed there was an active shooter. As they approached the house, the suspect began shooting at the officers and an exchange of gunfire ensued, Bruno said.
"We heard a boom then another boom, boom, boom. They were like, 'Oh God, call 911,'” neighbor Allyson Bobble said.
During the shootout, Bruno said, two officers were hit with rounds from the high-powered rifle fired by the suspect. At one point, the suspect was shot by police, and "stopped advancing toward officers," Bruno said.
One officer was shot in the stomach, and the second officer was struck once in both hands. Both officers, whose names have not yet been released, were both taken to the UF Health Jacksonville.
Three people who were inside the home at the time were unhurt.
"We often talk about the inherent dangers of police work. Tonight, those dangers were all too real for these officers," Bruno said. "As the officers approached the house, they knew it was a rifle that this individual was shooting and they knew that they were staring danger in the face and yet they moved forward to meet their commitment they held and that they swore to take to protect this community."
The Sheriff's Office continues to investigate and is expected to provide an update sometime Saturday.
Crime and safety analyst Gil Smith, who is retired from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, spoke about the obstacles officers face while on the job.
"That's the extremely dangerous part of police work is the unknown you just don't know what the person is going to do," Smith said. " That's why training is so important being prepared to handle all situations and on top of that the officers having the courage to approach a house where you know you can't see the person but they can see you. Knowing they may shoot at you and still to continue to approach the house knowing that your life is on the line. I mean, that is the bravest thing a police officer can do."
According to News4Jax records, 11 JSO officers have been shot since 2007. Just last month, JSO K-9 Officer Jeremy Mason was shot in the chin by bank robbery suspect, Michael Harris.
In Northeast Florida, the most recent officer shot and killed in the line of duty was Clay County Sheriff's Detective David White in 2012.
Just south of Orlando, two police officers were also shot Friday night, one of them fatally, according to Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell.