One dead, one arrested after Ponte Vedra Beach burglary leads to fatal deputy-involved shooting

Update: The St. Johns Sheriff’s Office has released a report of the incident on November 4:

Crystal O’Neal is facing over 14 criminal charges for allegedly being an accomplice in the burglary that led to a fatal deputy-involved shooting near David Park in Ponte Vedra Beach Saturday. She has been arrested and charged with 14 felonies and two misdemeanor counts, including 10 counts of burglary, possessing burglary tools, property damage, and criminal mischief. In addition, she is accused of traveling outside her county of residence to commit a burglary.

According to the SJCSO, at around 5:42 a.m. on November 4, deputies from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call for a burglary in progress at a storage facility located off Palm Valley Road. Upon their arrival, they apprehended a female suspect, Crystal Lynn O’Neal, who was found in possession of what officers called “burglary tools.”

Mugshot provided by the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.
Mugshot provided by the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

As police continued to search the area, they found that there was a second suspect who had fled the scene before law enforcement arrived. Police began searching for this suspect immediately.

Later that morning, Deputy T. Parker reportedly located the suspect’s vehicle beneath the Palm Valley Bridge and attempted to make contact. The suspect, identified as Dustin Alan Rush, was uncooperative, resulting in a physical struggle between Deputy Parker and the suspect.

Action News Jax has obtained this family-confirmed image of Dustin Alan Rush, the suspect killed in the Deputy-involved shooting.

The family of the suspect involved in the officer-involved shooting over the weekend has confirmed photographs of Dustin Rush, who was shot and killed while attempting to evade deputies after a burglary incident.
The family of the suspect involved in the officer-involved shooting over the weekend has confirmed photographs of Dustin Rush, who was shot and killed while attempting to evade deputies after a burglary incident.
Dustin Rush was identified by family members as the suspect in Saturday’s deadly officer-involved shooting in St. Johns County.
Dustin Rush was identified by family members as the suspect in Saturday’s deadly officer-involved shooting in St. Johns County.
According to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, Rush, an armed burglary suspect, sped away from deputies, resulting in a crash into a retention pond. He was fatally shot while fleeing near Davis Park, where hundreds of children were participating in soccer and baseball tournaments.
According to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, Rush, an armed burglary suspect, sped away from deputies, resulting in a crash into a retention pond. He was fatally shot while fleeing near Davis Park, where hundreds of children were participating in soccer and baseball tournaments.
According to the SJCSO, at around 5:42 a.m. on November 4, deputies from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call for a burglary in progress at a storage facility located off Palm Valley Road. Upon their arrival, they apprehended a female suspect, Crystal Lynn O’Neal, who was found in possession of what officers called “burglary tools.”
As police continued to search the area, they found that there was a second suspect who had fled the scene before law enforcement arrived. Police began searching for this suspect immediately.
As police continued to search the area, they found that there was a second suspect who had fled the scene before law enforcement arrived. Police began searching for this suspect immediately.
Later that morning, Deputy T. Parker reportedly located the suspect’s vehicle beneath the Palm Valley Bridge and attempted to make contact. The suspect, identified as Dustin Alan Rush, was uncooperative, resulting in a physical struggle between Deputy Parker and the suspect.
Later that morning, Deputy T. Parker reportedly located the suspect’s vehicle beneath the Palm Valley Bridge and attempted to make contact. The suspect, identified as Dustin Alan Rush, was uncooperative, resulting in a physical struggle between Deputy Parker and the suspect.

The situation reportedly escalated when the suspect sped away from the scene, initiating a pursuit that led down the road toward Ponte Vedra High School and Davis Park.

During the pursuit, the lead vehicle attempted to stop the suspect’s vehicle, causing it to lose control. The suspect then allegedly abandoned the vehicle and fled towards the soccer fields in the park, armed with a handgun. Deputies continued their pursuit of the suspect.

As deputies continued their pursuit of the suspect, they reportedly gave numerous commands to stop, but the armed suspect refused to comply, leading to shots being fired, The suspect was airlifted to a nearby hospital where he later passed away due to his injuries.

Sheriff Hardwick commented, “This is an example of one of those cases where all of the training comes together, and our deputies, without hesitation, placed themselves in harm’s way for the safety and security of our citizens and visitors.”

In response to the incident, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office has been in contact with the sports associations using the soccer fields, as well as the St. Johns County School District. The school district plans to have district guidance counselors readily available at the school next week to provide support and resources for any students who may need assistance.

The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office’s Major Crimes Unit continues its investigation into the incident. They are urging anyone with information, including photos or videos related to the incident, to contact them at CrimeTips@sjso.org, and a detective from the Major Crimes Unit will be in touch.

Original: The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed there was an officer-involved shooting at Davis Park in Ponte Vedra on Saturday morning. One person was airlifted by Life Flight.

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At 5:42 a.m. officers were dispatched to a robbery in progress of a storage unit on Palm Valley Road. When officers arrived and started clearing the facility they noticed a suspect was still on scene and took him into custody.

Officers learned that there were other accomplices and began searching for the suspects in surrounding areas.

One of the deputies found a suspicious vehicle under the Palm Valley Bridge. The suspect was in the driver’s seat of a pick-up truck. The deputy made contact with the suspect and some sort of struggle developed, SJSO said.

The suspect then took off in the truck with deputies in pursuit. The chase headed straight to Davis Park where a large amount of kids were playing in a soccer tournament. SJSO Sheriff Robert Hardwick said in a briefing that the lead sheriff’s vehicle took invasive action and spun the suspect’s vehicle into a small retention pond.

The suspect then ditched the pickup truck and headed toward the soccer fields with a gun in hand. Deputies followed on foot.

The suspect made it to the parking lot where he took a “defensive posture” between two other vehicles. SJSO said that because of the amount of children playing in the park and the concern for everyone’s safety, deputies engaged the suspect with their firearms.

SJSO still does not know the condition of the suspect but he was airlifted by Life Flight.

Referees at the park said this happened during a soccer tournament in the eight to nine-year-old age group. Crowds of parents and students took off running, witnesses said.

The sheriff’s office has said this is an ongoing investigation. Any new information will be updated online and on-air. SJSO is asking anyone with information, videos, or photos to contact the sheriff’s office at CrimeTips@sjsco.org. The post has been added below.

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