In the ensuing confrontation, he shot and killed a 23-year-old man and injured a 21-year-old woman who courageously intervened to protect their friend from domestic violence, according to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office.
The incident occurred at a residence on State Road 100 in Keystone Heights, prompting a 911 call reporting the shooting. Upon arrival, deputies discovered a man in the driveway with multiple gunshot wounds, and sadly, he succumbed to his injuries.
Inside the house, authorities found a woman with a gunshot wound. She was promptly transported to a hospital, where she provided valuable information about the suspect, who had fled the scene.
Law enforcement agencies in the surrounding area were promptly alerted, providing a description of the suspect and his getaway vehicle, a pickup truck. Deputies successfully located and apprehended the suspect as he entered another county.
The victims had shown kindness by occasionally accommodating a friend in their home. Unfortunately, this friend was in an estranged relationship with the perpetrator, John Jacob Thornton, due to a history of domestic violence.
Thornton is currently in custody at Clay County Jail, facing charges of second-degree murder and second-degree attempted murder.
Sheriff Michelle Cook expressed her condolences to the victims’ families and wished a speedy recovery for the hospitalized victim. She remarked, “The victims were attempting to assist a friend but tragically became the target of the suspect.”