JACKSONVILLE, Fla.- An 11-year veteran of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office was shot in the chin while pursuing a robbery suspect and three-time convicted felon.
K-9 officer Jeremy Mason was shot while he was in pursuit of a man who is the suspect in two local bank robberies this week.
Police said the K-9 officer spotted the suspect, Michael Harris, 28, in a vehicle that was wanted in connection to the two local bank robberies. While calling for backup, Harris exited the original vehicle and got into a small silver car being driven by a woman and took off. Police were in the area looking for Harris based off of tips that they received about his location via the public.
As police pursued the Harris, he began leaning out of the back windows, shooting at the officers. Mason was struck in the chin by a bullet that came in through his windshield but continued to pursue Harris.
The pursuit stopped at Old Middleburg Road N. and Buttercup Street when Harris' car blew through a stop sign and another car, unrelated to the incident, crashed into it. Harris got out of his car and was instructed to drop his weapon, he did not and shot at the officers, at which point the officers shot back and killed him.
Harris was a previous offender. His record shows two prior burglary charges for which he was found guilty, one in 2010 and one in 2006. He was also found guilty of dealing in stolen property in 2010 and violating his parole in 2007. In 2008, he was found guilty on a charge of resisting an officer.
JSO said the firearm he used was reported stolen out of Taylor County, Florida in 2012.
"All he had to do was surrender," said Sheriff Mike Williams of the suspect. But he did not surrender and allow himself to be taken into custody, instead, he tried to kill an officer and was stopped.
Williams said that two bullet holes indicate that just a couple of inches separated Officer Mason from his current injuries and much worse prognosis. This is Officer Mason's first officer-involved shooting. Officer Brad Hurst also responded with Officer Mason. He was not injured.
"Officers put their life on the line every day -- it's not a tag line, it's not a slogan," said Williams. "So thank a police officer tomorrow when you see them."
#JSO Officer shot: Officer was shot in the face and is currently in stable condition. Suspect is deceased.— Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) July 25, 2017
Police said that Officer Mason is in good spirits. "He is very strong-willed," said Williams. He said that Mason is in good spirits and though he has a long road ahead of him he will be returning to work when he has recovered and the force looks forward to that.
They are unsure of the role of the female driver in the incident at this time.
The K-9 was not injured.
A man who lives near Buttercup street told our First Coast News Janny Rodriguez that he witnessed a scary afternoon. "I heard about eight or nine shots fired...I saw several police cars, about three or four of them hopped out and ran up to the house about two houses up from me and they were helping another officer out of the yard," said Thomas Collins.
A woman who spoke on the phone with a First Coast News reporter said that around 4:30 p.m. she was in her driveway trying to get to her mailbox on Lambing Road when a silver vehicle being pursued by two JSO vehicles zoomed by her nearly hitting her rear passenger side of her van.
JSO officer shot.Police say this is the same suspect related to Wells Fargo robberies reported in the last few days. @FCN2go— Julia Jenaé (@JuliaJenaeFCN) July 25, 2017