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3 White Men Chase a Black Man Who Is Later Found Dead with Gunshot Wounds Next to a Dumpster; Judge Raises Questions About Hate Crime Charges, ‘Didn’t See Any’ Other ‘Reason for It’

Three white men were arrested in connection with the shooting death last week of a 39-year-old Black man in Jacksonville, Florida. The victim’s name has not yet been released, according to First Coast News.

Ryan Nichols, 19, 18-year-old Daniel DeGuardia, and 21-year-old Holden Dodson were arrested after the victim was found dead behind a garbage dumpster on the 500 block of Ashley Street. The man was found dead from apparent gunshot wounds at 6:45 a.m. on May 2, and surveillance video footage captured the men chasing the victim on foot and in a vehicle.

Ryan Nichols Daniel DeGuardia Holden Dodson
(From left) Ryan Nichols, Daniel DeGuardia, and Holden Dodson were arrested in connection with the shooting death of a man in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo: First Coast News /YouTube screenshot)

The security footage later obtained by the police showed a Jeep Grand Cherokee carrying Nichols, DeGuardia and Dodson park near 100 North Julia Street before the men got out of the vehicle at approximately 2:25 a.m.

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At approximately 2:45 a.m., the footage captured one of the men chasing the victim past the Jeep. The three men got back into the Jeep a few moments later and drove away.

Subsequent footage captured the men driving down streets nearby, seemingly looking for the victim, who is seen at approximately 2:50 a.m. on Clay Street and running north from the Jeep. One of the men got out and chased the man, who is later seen trying to hide behind the garbage dumpster.

The police report is redacted and did not indicate the shooting. Dodson later reported his 9mm Glock missing.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office found several 9mm gun shell casings at the scene of the crime along with a loaded extended magazine, which was found next to the victim. They also found evidence that the garbage dumpster had been hit by a vehicle.

Additional video from a 7-Eleven on Julia Street caught the Jeep’s license plate, which had the words “9/11/2001 we will never forget” and an American flag. The Jeep reportedly belongs to DeGuardia’s mother. After Nichols and Dodson were identified, arrest warrants were issued, and they were arrested.

Nichols was charged with second-degree murder, while DeGuardia and Dodson were charged as accessories after the fact. Nichols was also charged with altering physical evidence records.

Circuit Court Judge Kim Sadler told two of the defendants, DeGuardia and Dodson, that their charges could be upgraded to hate crimes when they appeared in court on Thursday. It’s unclear why the judge did not say the same for Nichols.

DeGuardia’s bail was set at more than $500,000, and Dodson’s was set at just over $200,000. The judge did not grant Nichols bond. Sadler told the news outlet that the state would decide if hate crime charges would be brought.

“I’m not the state, it’s up to them, of course, what charges they bring,” said Sadler. “But it was just a bunch of white guys chasing a Black guy, and I didn’t see any reason for it.”

Sheriff’s Office public information officer Christian Hancock told the outlet that “no information at this time” pointed to the victim’s death being a hate crime. However, state statutes state that crimes committed motivated by “race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, homeless status or advanced age of the victim” are hate crimes and therefore subject to harsher penalties.

The investigation is still active, but an authority “with direct knowledge” of the case told the outlet that there is no evidence that a hate crime was committed.

The defendants’ next court date is on May 25.

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