Police are looking for a man they consider armed and dangerous who is accused of holding a 4-year-old girl and her mother against their will in their home.
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda said 29-year-old Richard Lee Johnson (pictured, below) forced his way into the home on Payne Avenue with a gun. Bujeda said a day care worker was dropping the girl off at home about 3:30 p.m. when someone inside pulled the girl in and closed the door.
That worker was concerned and called police. Officers said the mother, Rhonda, was inside the home and they could see a man with his hand over the child's mouth.
"He just told her (the daughter) to sit down and be quiet and don't make no noise, and my life was in his hands and he would kill me before he went to prison," Rhonda said.
Bujeda said police began establishing a perimeter around the home when the suspect bolted, running out the front door.
Bujeda said the girl was OK, but officers were looking for Johnson, who is considered armed and dangerous. He is wanted on charges of armed burglary and false imprisonment. Johnson has a past criminal history, Bujeda said.
Bujeda said the suspect and the mother had a prior relationship, and there is a current injunction on the suspect.
"We don't know what his intentions were," Bujeda said. "The day care worker going to the door and dropping the child off might have stopped what his intentions were."
Channel 4 crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said Rhonda handled the situation like she should have.
"She did the right thing by just complying at that time with whatever he's telling or asking her to do," Jefferson said. "She did the absolute right thing by just complying. If she could have escaped, she would have tried to, but he obviously held her to a point where she could not escape."
Jefferson also said the daycare worker did the right thing by not getting herself involved in the situation.
"She did the right thing by removing herself from the perceived threat that was happening in the home, and getting away and contacting police, and allowing police to go up and approach because she could have walked into a very volatile situation and easily could have become a victim as well."
Police said they used a helicopter and K9 units to search for the suspect, but did not locate him.
People who live in the area say this makes them want to keep an even closer watch on their kids.
"It's not good and safe for the kids to be out here playing around while all this is going on," said one nearby resident. "I think he needs to be locked up."
Johnson was last seen on foot in the area of Grothe and Cleveland streets.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.