A bank robbery suspect is dead after he shot an officer during a pursuit in Jacksonville, officials said.
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said K-9 Officer Jeremy Mason was shot in the chin while chasing bank robbery suspect Michael Joseph Harris near Old Middleburg Road on Tuesday.
#JSO Officer shot: Suspect was shot as well. Both officer and suspect were transported to the hospital.— Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) July 25, 2017
JSO said officers saw the man accused of robbing Wells Fargo and Atlantic Coast Bank in the past two days inside a car seen at the robberies. Police were in the area of 103rd Street and Old Middleburg Road following up on tips from citizens, Sheriff Mike Williams said.
As officers approached Harris, he got out of the car he had been using to conduct the robberies and got into a second, silver car driven by a woman, Williams said. She drove off and officers pursued her for two miles with Mason leading other patrol cars, officers said.
Police said on Wednesday afternoon that the woman who was driving that car yesterday was the victim of a carjacking and abduction by Harris.
Sheriff: Suspect shot at officers, did not obey command to drop weapon
As the high-speed pursuit was unfolding, Harris was leaning out of either side of the back windows of the vehicle, firing shots at the officers, police said.
The gun that Harris was using to shoot at officers was reported stolen out of Taylor County, Florida, in 2012.
Officers fired back at Harris. Bullets hit Mason's windshield and car. One bullet hit Mason's headrest, inches away from a different outcome, Williams said.
As the pursuit continued, the vehicle Harris was traveling in ran a stop sign at Old Middleburg Road and Buttercup Street and another vehicle crashed into them, Williams said. Harris then got out of the vehicle and officers commanded him to stop and drop his weapon and he did not, firing again at the officers.
Two officers -- Mason and Detective Brad Hurst -- fired at Harris, hitting and killing him. Hurst was in the area following up on a sexual offender notification, Williams said.
Mason is an 11-year veteran of JSO and Hurst has been with JSO for 10 years. This is the first officer-involved shooting for both Mason and Hurst.
Mason was alert and stable as of late Tuesday night, Williams said. He is expected to undergo surgery.
Sources: Bullet entered officer's chin & exited his cheek. He's talking & doing good. Will have surgery soon. @ActionNewsJax— Russell Colburn (@RussellANjax) July 25, 2017
Suspect's criminal history
Williams said Harris is a three-time convicted felon.
According to JSO records, he was adjudicated guilty for burglary in 2007, adjudicated guilty in 2008 for resisting officer without violence, and in 2011, he was adjudicated guilty for burglary, theft and dealing in stolen property.
Harris was arrested in 2007 for possession of a controlled substance and possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis, but the charges were dropped. He was also arrested in 2016 on a grand theft charge.
Williams said all Harris had to do at any point during the pursuit was surrender.
"There's no level of desperation that justifies you attacking a police officer. Here you have a guy who's a three-time convicted felon. He's no stranger to what he's doing. He understands exactly what he's doing, gets involved in a pursuit with police officers. At any given time, all he had to do was give up. All he had to do was surrender. He chose not to do that. He chose to fight with the officers. He chose to attempt to take an officer's life. At this point, I have no sympathy for any level of desperation he had. At any point, all he had to do is stop and he'd have been taken into custody," Williams said.
Witness says shooting was 'wild and crazy'
Bryan Lumsden said he was outside when he saw the chase between Mason and Harris come to an end.
"It was wild, it was just wild and crazy," Lumsden said. "When they wrecked, the people jumped out and all kind of police were coming after them."
Then he said he heard at least four gunshots.
“That just brought me out and made me go into protect mode," Lumsden said.
Northeast Florida officials show support for officer
Several officials in Northeast Florida and around the state shared well wishes for Mason.
🙏 @JSOPIO for your Officer who was shot today. Our ♥️ stands with you!— Alachua Co. Sheriff (@AlachuaSheriff) July 25, 2017
Our thoughts to the @JSOPIO Officer shot today protecting our streets. Wishing a quick and full recovery.— FHPJacksonville (@FhpJacksonville) July 25, 2017
So glad that Officer Mason survived this fight. Your brothers and sisters to the South are behind you always.— Gainesville Police (@GainesvillePD) July 26, 2017
@JSOPIO We are wishing your officer a full and speedy recovery.— Stuart Police Dept. (@cityofstuart) July 26, 2017
Tweets, social media posts as the investigation unfolded
Action News Jax reporters and anchors used social media to share the latest developments:
Action News Jax crime and safety expert says suspect and officer often are brought to separate hospitals for safety pic.twitter.com/1zl06bnWgr— Deanna Bettineschi (@DeannaANjax) July 25, 2017
BREAKING: Just confirmed with Sheriff JSO officer shot on westside CBS47 at 5 @ActionNewsJax— John Bachman (@BachmanANjax) July 25, 2017
Sources say JSO k-9 officer was shot, he smiled and waved as he arrived at UF health in stable condition. @ActionNewsJax Team coverage now.— Paige Kelton (@PaigeANjax) July 25, 2017
Source:JSO officer shot chasing Bank Robbery suspect from Monday. Injured suspect taken to OP medical. K9 officer seen smiling at UF health— Paige Kelton (@PaigeANjax) July 25, 2017
Action News Jax is continuing to investigate this developing story.
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