The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office held a news conference Thursday regarding two separate fatal officer-involved shootings in which the suspects, one a teenager, were killed.
JSO first addressed an officer-involved shooting that occurred outside a Motel 6 on 812 Dunn Ave., before addressing a separate shooting that occurred in Mandarin.
JSO said at around 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, Officers T.K. Jimenez and J.E. Stillwell were patrolling the parking lot of a Motel 6 on Dunn Avenue when they noticed a parked red Chevy with the trunk popped open.
After searching the tag and vehicle, officers discovered the vehicle's tag was registered to another vehicle and that the Chevy was reported stolen out of Macon, Ga. on Dec. 7.
After the discovery, a woman named Ashley Day, 26, approached the officers and said the vehicle belonged to her boyfriend who she said was inside the motel.
Officers detained Day, who they said began to verbally resist and turn away from officers.
During the struggle with Day, JSO said suspect James Emerson Connell, 43, approached the officers with his hand inside a large black purse.
Officer Stillwell reported that Officer Jimenez had ordered Connell to drop the bag, but JSO says once the suspect was within five feet of the officer, Connell produced a gun and began firing.
Jimenez then started firing about 15 rounds, striking Connell multiple times. Connel was pronounced dead at the scene. Jimenez suffered bruises and abrasions to his knees but was otherwise OK, JSO says.
While JSO initially reported a physical struggle between the officer and the suspect occurred before the shooting, JSO says their investigation suggests only the shootout happened.
Connell has an extensive criminal history in Georgia, according to JSO, including a robbery that occurred in 2006. Connell was released from prison in 2018.
During their investigation, JSO determined that Connell sent Day to speak with the officers upon seeing them with the stolen Chevy. JSO says Connell told Day he was not going back to jail and threatened to kill the officers.
Day has not been connected to the carjacking of the red Chevy and has not been charged for a crime, according to JSO. The incident was the first time either officer had been involved in an officer-involved shooting.
After a brief break, JSO gave details regarding a police-involved shooting near an apartment complex in Mandarin where the suspect, identified as Dylan Parker Thomas, 18, was found dead inside a nearby breezeway.
JSO says the incident began at 9 p.m. after a woman who worked for BiteSquad, a food delivery service, reported she had been robbed after making a delivery off Old St. Augustine Road.
The victim gave the suspect an undisclosed amount of money after she said he threatened her with appeared to be a white revolver, but the suspect reportedly gave the money back before taking off saying, "I'm not in it for the money."
On-duty officers took over the investigation, at around 9:30 p.m. Officer H.A. Barry was looking for the robbery suspect at a nearby apartment complex at 1101Old St. Augustine Road, JSO said.
Barry stopped his car to speak with Thomas, who then took off running while pointing what looked like a revolver at the officer. Officer Barry began firing but was not sure if he had actually hit the suspect, according to JSO.
Five minutes later, a neighbor called police reporting a dead man with a gun was inside a breezeway of the same apartment complex. Thomas was found inside the breezeway with a gunshot wound to his chest, according to JSO.
He was pronounced dead after officers and nearby registered nurse gave him medical attention. The revolver was soon discovered to be a BB gun.
Thomas has a documented history of mental illness issues, JSO says, as well as a local criminal history.
JSO is still investigating the initial robbery and officers are looking at surveillance video from the incidents. They are working to determine if any other crimes in the area are connected to Thomas.
This was the first time Officer Barry had ever been involved in an officer-involved shooting, JSO says.
If you have any information regarding the robbery involving Dylan Parker Thomas, call JSO at 904-630-0500.