August 18, 2017
Cause of death: Shooting
Last updated: over 3 years ago
Two Jacksonville sheriff’s officers are recovering after sustaining serious injuries when they were shot at close range Friday night by a suspect wielding a rifle in a Westside home.
The wounded officers, 11-year veteran Michael Fox and five-year veteran Kevin Jarrell, entered the home in the 5100 block of Seaboard Avenue after hearing a gunshot inside, Williams said.
The suspect, identified as Derrick Rashard Brabham, was armed with a .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle and fired on the officers as soon as they broke through the door, Williams said.
“They were encountered by the suspect immediately,” Williams said. “He basically immediately opened fire on the officers just inside the threshold of the door.”
Williams said the men were just 4 or 5 feet from one another during the gun battle. Fox was hit in both hands. Jarrell was struck in the stomach, just below his protective vest.
At that range, a bullet fired from such a powerful rifle would have pierced the vest even if the officer had been struck higher on the body, Williams said.
“The body armor that we wear does not stop this kind of rifle,” he said. “There’s not a lot that’s designed that you could wear on a daily basis th stop that, and these officers know that.”
Both officers were in stable condition Saturday, Williams said.
The situation began when the Sheriff’s Office received a call about 10:50 p.m. about an individual making threats to harm himself and others in a residence. Williams said that along with the young boy, there were three women in the home when police arrived.
He identified the women as Brabham’s girlfriend, the girlfriend’s mother and a family friend. Williams said the child in the home is the son of Brabham and his girlfriend.
“I’ll tell you here today [there’s] no doubt in my mind that they saved those women’s lives,” Williams said.
After meeting nearby, seven officers approached the home on foot and observed what appeared to be an argument between a man and woman in the front yard. The two went back into the house, Williams said, and the officers set up a perimeter around the house.
Williams said it was at that point that the officers heard gunfire and decided to make entry.
“Basically what we have is a violent, alcohol-fueled domestic situation that obviously ended in two of our officers being shot and the suspect being shot and killed by police,” Williams said.
He said Brabham had been drinking all day. Other than traffic citations, he had no criminal history.
The gunfire prompted the other officers to enter the home to pull Fox and Jarrell to safety, Williams said. They then went back into the house and found Brabham on the ground in the hallway. The officers secured the scene and rescued the women and child, Williams said.
Williams said all the officers involved — as well as dispatchers who heard the firefight unfold over the radio — received counseling Saturday morning.
SUSPECT’S FAMILY MOURNS
A woman who answered the door at the home Saturday said the family is mourning and that the story from police was exactly how the situation unfolded.
“Everything that was said was all accurate,” the woman said.
Property records show the home is owned by Penelope Welch, who paid for the bond of Alysse Nichole Welch in a 2013 misdemeanor arrest, according to court records.
Mimi Strowbridge said Saturday morning that Alysse Welch is her best friend and the longtime girlfriend of Brabham. Strowbridge said she doesn’t know much about the relationship but said the two had a young child together.
Strowbridge said Alysse Welch understood the recovery of the officers was the top priority, but at the same time she wanted to see her boyfriend one last time.
“She hasn’t even gotten a chance to go see the body at the hospital,” Strowbridge said. Police said Brabham was taken after the shootout to Orange Park Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
About 11 a.m. Friday, Brabham posted two items on his public Facebook page: a shared photo of men burning a Confederate flag and an apparently joking note encouraging the Ku Klux Klan to hold its next rally on Moncrief Road in predominantly black Northwest Jacksonville.
A post from April was a shared photo about love, showing a couple kissing and the words “if the bond is real, y’al gone get over everything.”
OFFICER OF THE MONTH
Williams thanked the public for an outpouring of support overnight and said he was able to meet with Jarrell at the hospital Saturday morning.
“Both these men are in stable condition,” Williams said. “I would expect a long road back for both of them.”
Jarrell was named Officer of the Month in May 2016 by the Sheriff’s Office.
The previous November, while responding to a hit-and-run traffic crash, he realized the suspect had a warrant for his arrest on sexual battery and false imprisonment charges, according to the Sheriff’s Office. He located the vehicle and apprehended the suspect without incident.
That same fall he located a stolen Chevy Camaro and alerted others to set up a stakeout. The suspect returned to the vehicle, and an arrest was made after a short chase, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Williams said Jarrell was in good spirits Saturday morning but will still require multiple surgeries.