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Son shoots man attacking dad
Father said stranger was strangling him

By Veronica Chapin
Times-Union staff writer 

Saturday, November 25, 2000
Story last updated at 1:26 a.m. on Saturday, November 25, 2000

Originally published at

Making an unexpected visit to his father's house in North Jacksonville Friday morning, Dwayne McDowell Smith arrived to find him being choked and fatally shot the attacker, police said.

No charges had been filed late Friday.

The father, James McDowell Smith, 66, said he had been approached three times that morning by an unidentified young man before he was attacked from behind at his home at 4149 Lockhart Drive.

Smith said he was doing yard work when the stranger first approached and said he was from Atlanta and was trying to find a store that sold pancake syrup. After getting directions and leaving, the man came back for more information and returned again about 10:30 a.m. asking for change for $20.

After Smith said he didn't have it, the young man followed him to the back yard and grabbed him from behind in a choke hold, he said.

Dwayne Smith, 31, was stopping by to visit his father and saw him struggling with the man, who police said was about 18.

"He grabbed me with a choke hold and we scuffled for about three minutes when my son came up and I said, 'Shoot him, Dwayne,' and he did," James Smith said.

The son got a gun from his car and fired several shots at the man, striking him once in the shoulder, homicide Sgt. Rick Parker said.

The man climbed the backyard fence and died in a neighbor's yard. The father and son were taken to the Sheriff's Office for questioning.

Police said the investigation into the shooting is continuing.

The father said he couldn't break free from the man and was losing his breath. He said he thinks the man would have killed him.

"He was looking for trouble, and he got it," James Smith said.

The father said he is sore and has scratches and broken eyeglasses but is grateful to be alive.

"The Lord must have sent him [Dwayne] around here this morning," James Smith said of the unexpected morning visit.

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