JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Video recorded in December inside the Community First Credit Union on Edgewood Drive shows a gunman putting a pistol to the back of his hostages' heads and ultimately being taken down by SWAT team members.
After a two-hour standoff, the 13 hostages, including seven credit union employees, were escorted to safety by SWAT officers who had used a battering ram to end the standoff.
Police arrested 23-year-old Nicholas Humphrey, who they said threatened to kill hostages. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of armed robbery, kidnapping and auto theft and remains in jail without bond.
According to police, Humphrey came into the credit union in Northwest Jacksonville Dec. 1 shortly after it opened. Humphrey had a dog, dog food and a gun with him as he held the people hostage inside. Witnesses said he fired a shot into the air at one point.
News4Jax obtained the video from the State Attorney's Office late Wednesday. There are multiple cameras angles, each showing the gunmen taking the hostages, threatening them with a gun, moving them around the credit union, hostages fleeing and tactical officers swarming the building.
Because of the high-tech security system that was installed after someone fired a gun inside that same branch 15 years ago, police were able to watch what the gunman was doing during the standoff.
After about two hours, the SWAT team swarmed the building, freed the hostages and took Humphrey into custody. No one was injured.
News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith spent decades with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He said in a hostage situation the most important thing to do is also the hardest.
“The most difficult thing to do as a hostage is stay calm and don’t be combative,” Smith said. “Speak only when spoken to, because you don’t want to say something that is going to irritate them.”
Humphrey’s mother said he suffers from mental illness and she’s tried, unsuccessfully, to get him help.
Humphrey's attorney has not asked for a psychiatric evaluation. He is due back in court March 23 and has waived his right to a speedy trial.