JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A police officer working off-duty was shot several times Saturday night by a shoplifting suspect that was pursued from Regency Square Mall, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Authorities said the officer managed to return fire, killing the suspect."It was a pretty violent scene. We're fortunate the officer isn't dead," Undersheriff Frank Mackesy said. "It was a fight for life and they were in close-quarter combat."
Officer Jared Reston -- a 5-year veteran with the force -- was in serious condition at Shands-Jacksonville.
The good news is:
The suspect died at the scene. Police were working to identify him.
The incident began when two officers in uniform working at the mall tried to apprehend two shoplifting suspects about 7:45 p.m. One of the officers captured one of the suspects, but Reston chased the other to the 9400 block of Atlantic Boulevard.
Police said at that point, the suspect who had refused the officer's commands to stop, but pulled a gun at started shooting at the officer. A witness said the suspect fired at least 10 shots."
We know that multiple shots hit him in the chest. Fortunately, he was wearing a bullet-proof vest," Mackesy said. "
The officer did have an opportunity, after being fire upon, to return fire, and the suspect is dead."
The second shoplifting was in custody before the shooting occurred. He was being questioned, but police said he had no involvement in the shooting."
I've never seen a gunshot victim, period, before -- and to see it was a police officer, it was really upsetting," witness Christopher Ribble said.
Prayers and wishes for a complete recovery go out to Officer Jared Reston and his family.