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The Villages
Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Suspect in standoff in The Villages enters plea in court

James Savage
James Savage

A suspect involved in a standoff last week in The Villages has entered a plea in court in connection with the case.

James Savage, 54, entered a plea of not guilty in Marion County Court on Wednesday in connection with the case in which he surrendered this past Saturday morning at a home in the Village of Chatham. Savage continues to be held without bond at the Marion County Jail.

Savage was initially wanted for kidnapping a woman and forcing her into a Mercedes in the Village of Monarch Grove.

During a manhunt, Marion County sheriff’s deputies knocked on a door at 7970 SE 174th Belhaven Loop in the Village of Chatham after the Mercedes was found at Nancy Lopez Legacy Country Club.

Eventually, Savage was determined to be inside the home, owned by a widow who had previously befriended Savage. The kidnapped woman had also been in the home, but was set free before the standoff began.

The SWAT team began firing teargas into the home, prompting Savage to fire back at the deputies, leaving a bullet hole in a neighbor’s house.The SWAT team sent a robot into the home, but Savage shot the robot, leaving it inoperable.

Savage ultimately surrendered around 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

The home sustained heavy damage with doors and windows smashed by the SWAT team’s armored vehicles. A crew from Marion County Fire Rescue donned protective gear and oxygen tanks when they entered the home Saturday afternoon for an inspection, due to the use of the teargas.

Savage was hardly a stranger in the Belhaven Loop neighborhood. He was arrested last year after alarming behavior apparently fueled by jealousy, aimed at a woman who lived on the same street where the standoff occurred. He sent her more than 200 text messages, many of them of a threatening nature. He also screamed into her Ring doorbell camera on a number of occasions, leaving plenty of evidence of his scary behavior. The prosecutor’s office opted not to move forward with the case after the victim became uncooperative.

In 2020, Savage was convicted of exploitation of an elderly woman with dementia in St. Lucie County. His co-defendant in that case was the same woman he had tormented on Belhaven Loop.

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