Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Carjacking and Violent Crimes ... in Ponte Vedra; Citizen Awareness Is Key, Says the Sheriff, Because No Area Is Immune to Crime

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Carjacking and Violent Crimes ... in Ponte Vedra; Citizen Awareness Is Key, Says the Sheriff, Because No Area Is Immune to Crime

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTINA ABEL

PONTE VEDRA BEACH - While an armed carjacking, armed robberies and other unusual violent crimes have occurred in the last few weeks, law enforcement officials said they won't change the way they patrol the area.

St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar said Wednesday the crimes are unusual for Ponte Vedra Beach, but that the police have a good presence there and that presence is only a small part of deterrence. Citizen awareness, he said, is invaluable.

"As we become more crowded and populated, we will see more crime, just like any other place in America," Shoar said. "We have to be aware of our surroundings. Nobody is immune to crime."

Sgt. Chuck Mulligan, a sheriff's spokesman, said they've been lucky to catch some of the criminals in recent cases, specifically because only a few roads lead in and out of Ponte Vedra Beach.

"There are only a few ways to get in and out," Mulligan said. "If the suspect never drives past us [at those roads], then that gives us a reason to go into the neighborhoods."

Mulligan said the strategy was useful in catching the two suspects in an armed carjacking Sunday on Ponte Vedra Boulevard.

At 4:20 p.m., a 42-year-old Ponte Vedra Beach man and his 10-year-old son were driving in the 500 block, just a few miles from their home. The victim said a woman driving a Dodge Neon drove past him and stopped in front of his car. The male passenger got out of the Neon, approached the victim's window and pointed a gun at him and told him and his son to get out of the car.

The man then drove off in the victim's car and the woman driving the Neon followed him to a parking lot in the 200 block of Florida A1A North. The man then took off again, driving south on A1A, lost control of the car and crashed into a ditch. Ronnie Pew Jr., 21, and Domenique Shantay Walker, 19, both of Jacksonville, were arrested about 15 minutes after the carjacking.

"We were able to catch the suspects quickly, which is rare in a carjacking," Shoar said. …

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