One shot at Interstate hotel during police operation

A fugitive, wanted in connection with charges of aggravated sexual battery against a child under the age of 15, has been shot and killed at the door to his motel room on SR-16 at I-95 by members of a joint local-federal law enforcement task force attempting to execute an arrest warrant.

Officers knew the fugitive was here, knew the vehicle he was driving, and confirmed the room information before approaching the door, according to statements made by sheriff’s Commander Chuck Mulligan.

Historic City News has learned that at about 6:00 p.m. Tuesday evening, both federal and county law enforcement officers approached the room on the second floor of the Howard Johnson motel near the Outlet Mall and called for the fugitive to exit the room.

Based on information gleaned from Mulligan, we believe the suspect took some sort of action that triggered the shooting at the moment of his arrest. “He did not surrender in a manner that allowed these individuals to take him into custody without further event,” Mulligan said.

Officers with the US Marshal Service and local deputy sheriffs reportedly fired multiple times. Mulligan said the shooting occurred “inside and outside” of the motel room, “it was in a close proximity to the door”.

St Johns County Fire-Rescue was called immediately, but emergency medical personnel were unsuccessful in their efforts to resuscitate the fugitive, who died at the scene.

Mulligan could not say, specifically, if the man was armed, or believed to be armed; investigators and crime scene technicians will determine that level of minutia sometime tonight, according to Mulligan’s statement.

The fugitive, who reportedly was the sole occupant of the room, is not yet being identified to allow officials an opportunity to first notify family members. The names of the officers involved are being withheld until a later time. Mulligan says there are different privacy protocols between jurisdictions.

“Criminal backgrounds are protected by federal law,” Mulligan responded when asked if he knew, based on the fugitive’s criminal background, if he has been known to be violent or to carry a weapon. “What I know about his criminal past, I cannot share.”

However, Mulligan did say that, in addition to the active warrant, the fugitive was currently on probation on other criminal charges.

Although everything is settled tonight, Mulligan reported that the investigators with the sheriff’s major crimes unit will likely be on the scene throughout the night and into tomorrow morning.

“There is no further threat to the public at this time”, Mulligan told local reporters. No other person of interest is being “questioned, detained or in custody”. The fugitive had no known family ties to St Augustine or North Florida.

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