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Firefighters get added protection after shooting

Firefighter grazed by bullet in drive-by shooting; Police seeking shooter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville police are protecting their brothers and sisters at the fire department after someone shot at two firefighters Tuesday night on the Southside.

Firefighter Michael Reid, 45, was grazed by a bullet fired by a drive-by gunman about 7:30 p.m. outside Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Station 28 on Hogan Road.

Police are still looking for the shooter, but Reid is OK and actually finished his shift Tuesday night and kept responding to calls. He did not need to go to the hospital and was off duty Wednesday.

An officer guarded the Hogan Road station all day because of the shooting.

"That is wrong, just dead wrong," said James McMillan, who lives near the station and said he heard two or three gunshots Tuesday night.

Detectives believe someone driving on Hogan Road shot at the firefighters as they were fueling their engine up at the tanks right behind the fire station.

"This is stuff that we deal with on a daily basis," said Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters. "We do get gunshots (around us) and are going into bad situations. But to actually be targeted as JSO is saying, that's something new that we don't normally run into."

Wyse is upset someone targeted first responders but said it didn't stop them from doing their jobs. The firefighters talked with investigators and then got back in their trucks.

"We are still very very actively working," Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Director Tom Hackney said. "I called and got an update right before I came down and we are making some headway."

Police said they think the shooter was in an older white box-style vehicle. In the meantime, officers are patrolling near every fire station in town and following firefighters on every call they go to – even the routine ones.

"Those men and women are unarmed, so we are taking some extra steps to ensure that those fire stations are checked, that the runs they go on, they receive some protection as they go," Hackney said.
     
"It makes you feel a little bit better that they will have somebody there with a gun and to be able to protect them a little bit better," Wyse said.

There's no word how long JFRD will have that added security.

This was not the first shooting incident involving firefighters in town. A few months ago, a bullet pierced a window at another station, ending up in a recliner. Luckily, no one was hurt. Several engines have been shot at over the years as well.