Jacksonville, FL — The JSO officer shot in an exchange of gunfire which killed a man on the Westside was actually hit while pursuing the suspect, but continued to chase and help take him down.
It’s the newest information coming from Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, as they continue to investigate the incident.
We first told you earlier Tuesday that police were called to the area of 103rd and Old Middleburg Road as part of their search for a man suspected in two bank robberies. Williams now confirms several tips from the community helped lead them to that area, which is where officers found 28-year-old Michael Joseph Harris.
When JSO approached Harris, he got out of his car and in to a small silver vehicle that had a woman driving. Williams says JSO is still working to determine whether the woman was a willing participant in the chase that ensued, or another victim in this crime spree.
The chase lasted around two miles, and JSO confirmed on Tuesday that it ended in some kind of incident involving a civilian car. Williams says their investigation has led them to believe the suspect vehicle ran a stop sign and was hit by a civilian vehicle who had the right of way. A person in that civilian vehicle was taken to the hospital for injuries resulting from the crash.
Williams also now confirms that the officer who was shot in the chin-area was actually hit by shots fired during that vehicle pursuit. 11-year veteran K9 Officer Jeremy Mason is stable, but faces a long road back, according to Williams. Despite the injury, Williams says Mason continued to pursue the suspect, and was ultimately one of two members of JSO who fired on Harris when he got out of the vehicle and fired his gun again.
“We talk a lot about these men and women here at JSO that put their lives on the line every single day. That’s not a tag line, that’s not a slogan,” Williams says.
The other man who fired was 10-year veteran Detective Brad Hurst, who Williams says was working in the area on a sex offender notification case, but heard what was happening through their radio communication and joined in.
Neither Mason nor Hurst have been involved in a police shooting previously, according to Williams.
Williams says Harris is a three time convicted felon. In addition to those convictions, he is considered the suspect in a bank robbery that happened on Tuesday and one that took place Monday.
Duval County court records show Harris pleaded guilty to a 2006 burglary and 2010 charges of burglary and dealing in stolen property. He was also found guilty on a 2008 charge of resisting an officer without violence. There are a few other minor arrests, according to Duval County Jail logs, including a probation violation.