BALDWIN, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office on Friday identified the man accused of shooting two people — one fatally — at a Baldwin truck stop before exchanging gunfire with officers along a busy interstate.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, Leroy Edwards Jr. is charged second-degree murder and attempted murder in connection to the shooting of two people at the Pilot Travel Center on U.S. 301.
Family told News4Jax that Todd Phillips was the man who was shot and killed outside the truck stop.
“When I finally heard it, I just came in the house and broke down. It just hurt so bad,” said his wife Evita.
Friends said Phillips, 58, loved to fish and spent many days relaxing on the banks of the Ribault River.
“Fishing, hunting, crabbing. I mean, we were river rats,” life-long friend Mayse Brock said. “We were down at the river every day. We always had fun.”
JSO said Edwards used a small-caliber gun in the truck-stop shooting before fleeing to Interstate 10 in a big rig.
JSO Chief of Investigations T.K. Waters said Thursday the truck driven by Edwards was found stopped on I-10, and as three officers approached the truck, gunfire came from the cab, missing the officers but striking one of their patrol cars. All three officers returned fire, injuring Edwards, who was taken to a hospital with critical injuries. He was charged with three counts of attempted murder for allegedly firing at officers.
A photo of the gun Edwards allegedly used in the crimes was released Friday by JSO.
JSO said Edwards, 56, worked for Rinaudo Enterprises Inc. and the shooting that occurred at the truck stop was not random but rather a case of workplace violence.
Friends said Phillips, who lived in the Ken Knight neighborhood, worked with Edwards at Rinaudo Enterprises, a Jacksonville trucking company that owned the truck driven by Edwards the day of the shootout.
One employee at Rinaudo Enterprises said Friday the shootings were “tragic," but wouldn’t say more. Family said he studied at Roadmaster Drivers School of West Memphis and became a Safety Coordinator for the company in February.
Troy Gordon said he is devastated by the loss of Phillips, his friend of 50 years.
“He was a good guy. I hate that it happened,” Gordon said.
Bridgette Walker, who lived next to Phillips for 22 years, was emotional and struggled to find the words to describe her friend.
“He would be on his way to work and if my daughter said, ‘Mr. Todd I have a flat tire,’ he would stop what he was doing before going to work and fix that tire,” Walker said.
JSO did not identify the other shooting victim, citing Marsy’s Law, but News4Jax found the other man shot was also an employee of the trucking company.
Chief Waters identified the officers involved as Sgt J. Dowling (six years with JSO), Officer S. Hackney (two years on force), and K-9 Officer RC Winfrey (three years). He said it was the first police-involved shooting for all three and all three were wearing body cameras.
JSO said the incident continues to be an active investigation and asks anyone with information about the shooting to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at 904-630-0500.
JSO has not released much information about what led up to the shooting. News4Jax reached out to JSO for more information but did not immediately hear back.
“It’s hurting all of us because [Phillips] was too good of a guy to go out like that,” Brock said. “And he didn’t do anything wrong and I am quite sure he didn’t do anything wrong. He was just doing his job.”