Florida trooper dies in shooting; suspect killed by officer

Col. Gene Spaulding, center, director of the Florida Highway Patrol, 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, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, in Stuart, Fla. The agency says the suspect who shot Bullock was then fatally shot by a passing police officer. Authorities say Bullock had stopped Wednesday to help a stranded motorist when the man pulled a gun and shot him. (Eric Hasert/TCPalm.com/USA Today Network via AP)

By: Associated Press
February 6, 2020

PALM CITY, Fla. (AP) — 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 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.

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