College student fatally shot during fight outside Town Center nightclub

Family of the 24-year-old man killed early Friday morning in a shooting outside the Suite nightclub at the St. Johns Town Center said he was trying to break up a fight when he was shot.

Friday afternoon, Jacksonville police said that Sina Sharifa was shot twice as he was in a physical altercation with Toray Ricketts, also 24 years old. When two off-duty officers working at the club heard the shots and responded, they saw Sharifa running away from Ricketts, who was running after him with a gun, police said.

Sharifa was taken to UF Health Jacksonville, where he died. Rickett was arrested and charged with second-degree murder and having a concealed firearm.

Police said they were called to the club on Big Island Drive about 2:10 a.m. after an argument in the club spilled over into a fight in the parking lot. Witnesses said Ricketts went to his car, got a gun and returned.

“They both ended up on the ground, and that is the point when Mr. Ricketts pulled a handgun from his waistline and fired two shots, striking Mr. Sharifai,” JSO homicide Lt. Steve Gallaher said. “Mr. Sharifai attempted to run. Behind him, trailing behind him, was the suspect Toray Ricketts. He was armed with a handgun.”

Sharifai’s family said he would have never started a fight, and believes he was trying to stop it.

Sharifa’s cousin and uncle said he was a graduate of Nease High School and was about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Florida State College at Jacksonville. He planned to move to Washington D.C. and wanted to be a counselor.

“He was a family man. He was and all-around stand-up guy,” cousin Kavoosh Mohajeri said.

Family members were told Sharifa was being a good Samaritan and was trying to help other people from getting hurt when he was killed.

His uncle, Behrouz Sharifai, said he was just trying to hold the family together.

“He … has always been an upstanding citizen in any situation he’s been faced with,” he said. “The only thing left right now are memories.”

People who work at the club said they are very upset and saddened by Sharifa’s death. They said they have top-notch security inside the club and had two off-duty officers working there Thursday night.

According to News4Jax records, this was the first homicide at the St. Johns Town Center.

Police respond to drowning in Bartram Springs

Police have responded to the report of a drowning Friday afternoon at a home on Cherry Lake Road East, off Race Track Road, near the Duval-St. Johns County border.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was investigating the incident and was expected to release some initial information at 5:30 p.m.

Refresh this article Friday evening or watch Channel 4 news at 5 p.m. for updates.

Pro athletes, veterans share history of concussions, depression

A new residential treatment center brought together military veterans and NFL players to share their experiences with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and brain injuries, such as concussions.

Eric Hipple, former quarterback of the Detroit Lions, is the NFL outreach coordinator for the Eisenhower Center, which treats adults with neurotrauma.

“You have the identity of wearing a uniform … the high of having people scream your name,” Hipple said. “Everything’s taken care of, and then the day you’re gone, it’s like all the trauma resurfaces.”

Hipple said retiring from the gridiron wasn’t easy. It’s not just concussions, but mental health issues that Hipple said many professional athletes go through untreated, as do military veterans who have a difficult time making the transition to civilian life.

“I slumped off into a depression, jumped out of a car going 80 miles an hour (that) my wife was driving. Woke up in a hospital,” Hipple said.

Donald McAlister said he spent 24 years in the Army and sees the similarities between football players and military veterans. He admits he needed treatment for depression after he retired.

“There’s a lot of hidden wounds out there, and as a soldier, you’re taught to suck it up, and a lot of them do that,” McAlister said.

Hipple was at the Eisenhower Center’s new location in the Beachwood area of Jacksonville, which officially opens Monday.

Directors of the program found athletes and veterans could relate and open up to each other about their mental health issues during the 30-day rehab treatment at its Michigan location, so the company brought the program to Jacksonville.

Therapists use physical, mental and social rehabilitation to speed up their recovery.

“Places like this can help you cope and put you in the environment that gives you those coping mechanisms,” McAlister said.

The Eisenhower Center opens on Monday. For more information, visit EisenhowerCenter.com.

Western Flagler County wildfire forces evacuations

A wildfire west of Bunnell in Flagler County prompted precautionary evacuations Friday afternoon, the Florida Forest Service said.

Forestry officials said the fire was 30 percent contained, and then it started spotting over and jumping fire lines.

IMAGES: Crews battle wildfire in western Flagler County

A plane is spotting for crews on scene, and a helicopter is dropping water on the flames.

There’s no word on how many acres are involved.

News4Jax will update this story as more details become available.