Florida trooper dies in shooting; suspect killed by officer

PALM CITY (AP) — A stranded motorist fatally shot a Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) 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 10.15am near Palm City, about a 45-minute drive north of West Palm Beach, said Colonel 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 48 kilometres from Palm City. Officials declined to say why the officer was in the area. City officials also declined comment.

The FHP had issued a statement earlier to the South Florida Sun Sentinel saying the suspect had died by suicide.

Director of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Colonel Gene Spaulding (C) speaks at a press conference from the Martin County Sheriff’s Office on the shooting death of FHP Trooper Joseph Bullock near a rest stop along I-95. PHOTO: AP

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. Vickers died in a September 2019 traffic crash near Orlando.

“People don’t realise 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 tractor-trailers that are barrelling down the highway behind you,” he said.

The shooting prompted authorities to close Interstate 95 in both directions in the area for hours. It reopened on Wednesday night.