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A Jacksonville police officer wounded Friday evening in a gun battle that left a man dead appeared to be trying to apprehend the man when he was attacked, a witness said.
Officer C.A. Sames was shot in his upper body during the 6:35 p.m. confrontation at West 26th and Barnett streets in Northwest Jacksonville, said Director Dwain Senterfitt of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Senterfitt said he visited Sames in the hospital and found him conscious and alert. A hospital official said Sames was in good condition.
Police did not release the identity of the slain man, though a woman who said she was his aunt identified him as Chester Elliott. The woman, Yevette Williams, said Elliott was 22.
Senterfitt said he did not know how many times Sames and a second officer shot the man, though witnesses and neighbors reported hearing at least 10 shots overall.
Senterfitt said Sames and Officer D.M. Ostertag were in a marked police car patrolling the crime-ridden neighborhood following a recent rash of street robberies. He said they spotted a suspicious man, got out and tried to stop him when the shooting began.
Senterfitt said police were still trying to determine why shots were fired and other details. He planned to release more information this morning.
Several people were out in the neighborhood at the time, including Cynitress Kinsey, who was leaving a relative's home with her grandmother when she saw the confrontation.
Kinsey, 17, said she and her grandmother were about to cross a street when she noticed a stopped police car with its emergency lights on. Kinsey said she saw a police officer outside the car calling for a man to stop. She believes she was about 15 feet away.
"He was saying, 'Hey. Hey,' trying to stop the man," Kinsey said.
Kinsey said she saw the officer holding a pair of handcuffs with his arms in the air. She said the man turned toward the officer as the officer appeared to reach for the man. She said the man then tried to push the officer's arms away and attacked him as they stood about a foot apart.
"The man pulled out a gun from his front pocket and then that's when I seen [the man] shoot [Sames]," Kinsey said.
Kinsey said she and her grandmother began to run toward the back of their relative's home when more shots were fired. Kinsey returned to the street a short time later to see the man's body several feet from where she first saw the confrontation.
Two neighbors reported hearing about 10 shots from blocks away. One of them, Annie Dukes, 49, said: "It makes you scared to even come out of your house anymore."
One neighbor said she is stunned by the ongoing crime in Jacksonville.
"This is terrible, terrible," said Beverly Jackson, 54. "We need to stop this violence."
Earlier this month, Jacksonville officers also were fired at on back-to-back days. On Sept. 10, officers investigating a burglary in Arlington came across an armed robbery attempt of a couple of women and exchanged gunfire. The next day, officers were stopped by a woman in a domestic dispute and shot at by her ex-boyfriend before he killed himself. It happened at 24th Street and Myrtle Avenue. No officers were hurt in either case.
In January, an officer was shot in the face and five other times by a shoplifter outside Regency Square mall before he was able to kill the 18-year-old suspect. Three of the shots hit the officer's vest, saving his life.
Another officer was shot in the face in 2006 as well, but also survived.
Officers have killed 11 suspects this year in 19 Jacksonville-involved shootings. The 19 equals the total for all of last year when nine ended in death.
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