A stranded motorist fatally shot a Florida Highway Patrol trooper alongside Interstate 95 on Wednesday before he was killed by a passing police officer, the agency said.
Trooper Joseph Bullock, 42, died in a shooting about 10:15 a.m. near Palm City, about a 45-minute drive north of West Palm Beach, said Col. Gene Spaulding, the agency’s commander. He said a passing police officer from Riviera Beach fatally shot the suspect, whose name has not been released.
Riviera Beach is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from Palm City. Officials declined to say why the officer was in the area. City officials also declined comment.
The entire Florida Highway Patrol and FLHSMV family mourns today for the loss of one of our own, FHP Trooper Joseph Bullock. Please keep his family and his team members in your prayers. pic.twitter.com/kQ8zO0mVGF
— FLHSMV (@FLHSMV) February 5, 2020
The FHP had issued a statement earlier to the South Florida Sun Sentinel saying the suspect had died by suicide.
Spaulding said that Bullock, a 19-year veteran, had been with the shooter for several minutes before the shooting. He released no further information, saying the shooting is under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Spaulding said Bullock is the 49th Florida trooper to die in the line of duty since the agency was founded 80 years ago. Trooper Tracy Vickers had been the last, dying in a September traffic crash near Orlando.
“People don’t realize when you approach a car, even a disabled vehicle or a car on a traffic stop, you are worried about not only what is inside that car and what danger is waiting for you, you are also worried about the 80,000-pound (36,000-kilograms) tractor-trailers that are barreling down the highway behind you,” he said.
Wednesday’s shooting closed Interstate 95 in both directions in the area and it remained closed late in the afternoon.