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Jax Daily Record Monday, Jul. 20, 201512:00 PM EST

50 years ago: FBI agent kills knife-wielding attacker in Downtown parking lot

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by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

An FBI agent shot and killed a man in a parking lot Downtown when the man attacked the agent with a knife as he attempted to arrest him.

Shocked office workers and shoppers witnessed a wild chase that ended with the shooting.

Johnnie Lee Davis, 59, was fatally wounded by FBI agent Donald Myers Jr. as Davis swung wildly with a long pocket knife, cutting Myers’ trouser leg. The agent was not injured.

The FBI and city detectives said Davis slashed two other people across their stomachs with the knife, causing minor wounds.

Myers was attempting to arrest Davis on charges of theft from an interstate shipment.

Fred Crawford of 1310 Flagler Ave. said he was walking along Main Street at Duval Street when he heard a woman shout, “He’s going to shoot.”

Crawford said he saw Myers walk toward Davis with his revolver drawn and that Davis had a long knife in one hand.

“He tried to stab the agent several times,” Crawford said.

Davis then turned and ran down Main Street with the agent, Crawford and other people chasing him.

Davis started to dart into a doorway but kept running until he reached the parking lot of the First Bank and Trust Co. at Market and Monroe streets. Witnesses said Myers fired two warning shots into the ground during the chase.

Witnesses also said someone threw a small wicker chair at Davis in the parking lot and Davis picked up the chair and threw it back at his pursuers.

Crawford said, at that moment, “The FBI man slipped and fired a shot. He missed and fired a second shot,” which struck Davis in the left side.

The suspect died on the parking lot pavement soon after he was shot.

The incident began when Myers was in Marvin Kay’s Music Center at Duval and Main streets. A truck driver, who had his vehicle parked in front of the store, walked up to the agent and told him, “I think the man you want is outside.”

Myers, the driver and another man went outside and accosted Davis, who began backing across Duval Street to the other side, according to witnesses.

Davis had parked his car directly behind the truck, which was making a delivery to the store.

D.K. Brown, special agent in charge of the Jacksonville FBI district office, said Davis was wanted for stealing merchandise from trucks when the drivers stopped to deliver freight.

City detective R.B. Whittington said an inquest into the shooting would be conducted at the discretion of State Attorney William Hallowes.

• Jacksonville Beach real estate developer Fred Ahern went on trial in U.S. District Court on charges he falsified applications to obtain loans to build homes.

He was charged in two indictments with having made false statements in the financing of homes in Isle of Palms and Isle of Palms South, two developments along Beach Boulevard near the Intracoastal Waterway.

Much of the testimony on the first day of the trial was given by A.B. Newton, official of the Beach Federal Savings and Loan Association, from which loans reported in the indictments were made.

The banker explained how applications were evaluated and approved by a three-member committee, which included him, during the time the alleged offenses occurred between April 1962 and April 1963.

Other testimony was heard from three people who purchased homes from Ahern and his company, Atlantic Builders Inc. The three testified they made down payments of $120 to $500.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Walsh indicated through his questioning of the prospective buyers that the down payments should have been $6,050 to $7,000.

The Federal Home Bank Loan Act required a payment equal to 25 percent of the cost of the property before a building loan could be obtained.

Ahern, 37, of 59 San Juan Drive in Ponte Vedra Beach, was charged with 11 counts of making false statements to obtain the loans.

The indictments stated he and his company claimed $73,895 in down payments had been made on properties while in fact the required payments had not been made.

The trial before Judge William McRae Jr. was expected to last several days. Ahern was represented by attorney Harris Dittmar.

• Attendance at the Fort Caroline National Memorial nearly doubled in 1964 compared to the previous year, according to U.S. Rep. Charlie Bennett of Jacksonville.

He said it was one of the best records for any national park or memorial in the country and far above the national average.

The site drew 100,500 tourists, compared to the 1963 attendance of 51,900. The visitor count for other similar facilities increased by only about 10 percent.

Bennett described the increase as “highly significant to future tourism and visitor development in Duval County” and added that everything possible should be done to continue the trend.

He suggested additional directional signs along main highways in the area be provided to acquaint travelers with the location and significance of the site.

• Steven Eugene Jordon, 16, served notice in Circuit Court he would rely on insanity as one defense to a murder charge in the May 11 stabbing death of a Glynlea woman.

Jordan was brought before Circuit Judge Charles Scott, who appointed Public Defender Ed Austin to represent the youth.

Assistant State Attorney Nathan Schevitz made a motion for the appointment of two psychiatrists to examine Jordon, who was indicted June 9 by the grand jury.

Juvenile Court Judge Lamar Winegeart Jr. on June 15 waived jurisdiction over Jordon and certified him to Circuit Court in an order that referred to findings of psychiatrists that the teen was psychotic.

Winegeart said the Circuit Court had better facilities for legally determining the sanity of a person charged with a crime.

Jordon was in the ninth grade at Southside Junior High School.

• Channel 7, Jacksonville’s educational television station, was preparing to celebrate its fifth birthday.

The station planned to observe the occasion not with a cake and candles, but by resuming broadcasts to public school classrooms in Duval County.

Educational broadcasts were scheduled to begin Sept. 3. At first, only subjects for secondary schools would be provided, with programs for elementary schools to be added later.

The station was not used by the public school system in the 1964-65 school year because station management and school officials could not agree on financial terms.

For 1965-66, the Board of Public Instruction budgeted $155,000 for educational television. Of the total, $40,000 was set aside for station upkeep, such as payments on its recently acquired new home in a former auto sales office at 2037 Main St.

• In an effort to get more people interested in the operation of their city, Jacksonville Beach officials prepared a brochure for distribution titled “Welcome to City Council Meetings.”

City Manager Walter Johnson, who authored the pamphlet at the request of the council, said copies would be mailed to residents with their utility bills and other copies would be available in municipal buildings.

The document included a brief description of the operation of government in Jacksonville Beach. It also explained the order of business and how to be heard at a council meeting.

To make it easier for residents to offer suggestions or lodge complaints, Johnson said, the document also had a list of city departments with their hours and telephone numbers.

• Jacksonville borrowed a lot of money in the early 1960s, but it also was in the business of lending money.

City Auditor John Hollister Jr. reported that lending in the first half of 1965 netted the city $1.5 million, about $400,000 short of the earnings for all of 1964.

The money the city used for investment was in temporarily idle construction funds, employee pension accounts and trust funds.

Hollister said he invested $26.4 million for the city: $16 million in proceeds from electric revenue certificates and $10.4 million from investments that matured and were reinvested.

The money from the electric certificates was purchased by the federal government at a 3.14 percent rate of interest. The $10.4 million from the matured investments also was purchased by the government at 3.881 percent interest.

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