(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) — Three men have been charged in connection with the killing of a 39-year-old Black man in Jacksonville, Florida.
On May 2, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was alerted to an unconscious individual, and found the victim lying on the ground near a dumpster in downtown Jacksonville with an apparent gunshot wound. He was pronounced deceased by the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, authorities said.
Multiple shell casings were found in the area and the dumpster had “multiple bullet defects,” according to a police report.
Authorities have not yet released the name of the victim.
During the course of the investigation, detectives found evidence that led them to them a possible suspect vehicle in the area where the shooting occurred, the police report says. The report states that a suspect was “observed” chasing the victim and approaching him as the victim was trying to hide behind a dumpster, before the suspect got into the vehicle and left the scene.
Ryan Nichols, 19, was charged Thursday with second-degree murder, according to the sheriff’s office. Daniel DeGuardia, 18, and Holden Dodson, 21, have been charged with accessory after the fact in the murder. The three men are white.
A judge on Thursday advised DeGuardia and Dodson they may have hate crime charges added to their offense, according to local outlet First Coast News. The judge later told the outlet that she based that upon the allegations that the three white men had been chasing the Black victim for no apparent reason.
However, law enforcement agencies told the outlet there is no information yet that evidences a hate crime.
Attorney information for the three men was not immediately available.
Hate crimes bring heavier penalties, according to Florida statutes. In the state, a crime must evidence “prejudice based on the race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, homeless status, or advanced age of the victim” to be considered a hate crime.
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