Jacksonville, FL - The man who was fatally shot by Jacksonville police at an Emerson gas station had been committed under the Baker Act just this past January.
It’s some of the new information we’re learning from JSO, as they continue to investigate the incident.
JSO Chief Chris Butler says they were first called a little before 7AM in regard to an employee reporting that a man was holding a knife and needed help. As officer’s responded, Butler says additional information came in about the man being aggressive. Employees further reported that the man was speaking unintelligibly and walking around the store, which had anywhere between ten and 20 people inside through the course of these events.
“The suspect would stand right by them, and people were passing within close proximity to the suspect. At times he would take the knife and hide it,” Butler says, showing that the suspect would tuck the knife under his arm.
He says surveillance footage from in the store also shows the suspect- who’s now identified as 38-year-old Jerry Marrero- pour out a bottle of motor oil. Employees became increasingly concerned, now fearing he could try to start a fire, according to JSO. Ultimately, Marrero went behind the front counter area, essentially blocking some employees in.
21-year veteran officer R. C. Santoro arrived on scene as employees and customers were evacuating. Butler says an employee immediately told him about the suspect, who was still armed with the knife.
“Police Officer Santoro observed the suspect, commanded him repeatedly to drop the knife and to get on the ground. The man commented that the police officer wasn’t allowed to pull a handgun out on him because he only had a knife,” Butler says.
Butler says Marrero initially put the knife in his pocket and started getting down, but then popped back up, pulled out the knife, and moved toward the officer. Santoro fired six shots in response, and while Marrero was taken to the hospital, he was later pronounced dead.
“It’s a tragic incident when these things happen. You know, the individual was given lawful commands and, really, there wasn’t any other option for Police Officer Santoro, other than to discharge his firearm to stop what the suspect was doing,” Butler says.
Santoro has been involved in two prior shootings- one in 2010 and one in 2011 where nobody was hit. He is now on administrative leave, per protocol, pending the investigation.
Marrero has several prior arrests, including from outside of the area. Those include assault and battery, breach of peace, sexual assault, kidnapping, and more. JSO says he was also committed under the Baker Act in January 2019. It’s not clear what led to Marrero’s actions today.