Gainesville police: Man with gun targeted officer

21-year-old accused of firing shots, aiming laser on gun at officer

Alachua County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Joseph Shirley
Alachua County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Joseph Shirley

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – An officer investigating a report of shots being fired from a car before dawn Sunday found herself targeted by a red laser as she drove into the residential area, according to the Gainesville Police Department.

Police said Officer Katie Boyett feared being shot and took evasive action, then confronted Joseph Shirley, 21, the sole occupant of a car on NW 38th Street that matched the description of the car where witnesses said gunshots were coming from.

In plain viewi Inside the car was a Smith & Wesson 9 mm handgun with a laser sight and multiple live rounds and empty shell casings, police said. Also in the vehicle were about 91 grams of cannabis, three THC vape packages and drug paraphernalia consistent with selling marijuana, according to police.

Shirley was booked into jail on charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, misuse of a laser device, possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute and criminal mischief.

"This incident could have ended tragically," Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones said. "Our officers face danger such as this in Gainesville and there aren't many options to protect yourself when confronted with a firearm. Officer Boyett used her training and experience for the best possible outcome."

Later Sunday and Monday neighbors called police to report finding bullet holes in their vehicles and houses. Additional charges for criminal mischief are pending.

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