MARION COUNTY, Fla. – After an emotional week of sacrifice and heroism by law enforcement in North Central Florida, a Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputy was violently attacked while he was working a call at the Paradise Bar and Lounge on North U.S. Highway 441 in Citra.
Deputy Joseph Spratlin and several bystanders were shot at multiple times while Spratlin was attempting to disperse a crowd at the bar around 2 a.m. Sunday.
Detectives say someone fired numerous rounds toward Spratlin and several other people near him. The deputy took cover to avoid being hit by the gunfire and his patrol vehicle was struck by one of the bullets.
Several other deputies responded to the scene but when they arrived the bystanders had gone.
No one has reported injuries as a result of the shooting.
Spratlin was unable to return fire toward the shooter because he was focused on getting bystanders to safe shelter. Detectives are working to identity eyewitnesses.
“Enough is enough,” said Sheriff Billy Woods. “A law enforcement officer’s worst fear came true in Gilchrist County last week, and I can tell you that all of my people are on edge. The shooting early this morning hits us right here at home and this type of senseless violence has got to stop. Every single day, all of us in law enforcement, whether we wear green, blue or black and tan uniforms, leave our families to serve and protect you, our citizens. I implore you to at least help us protect you from those who commit crimes like this. Whoever committed this crime last night is a danger to us all. Someone needs to do the right thing and turn that person, or persons, in today.”
If you have any information on this case, you’re encouraged to call Sgt. Donald Buie at 352-368-3538 or call the Marion County Crime Stoppers at 352-368-STOP or 352-368-7867.
If you use Crime Stoppers and your tip leads to an arrest, you may be eligible for a cash reward.