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.
According to multiple media reports, officials on Thursday identified the man who they say shot and killed the trooper as 28-year-old Franklin Reed III.
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 Reed.
“He was a trooper’s trooper,” said Master Sgt. Dylan Bryan, a Jacksonville-based trooper, who went to the training academy with Bullock nearly two decades ago. “He did a good job. He was always positive.”
Bryan said the two have remained friends ever since then. He was heartbroken to learn the news of Bullock’s death.
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.
According to WPTV, the truck driver called to help with the stranded vehicle told witnesses Reed was angry because he had to pay for a tow. Reed then apparently pulled a gun. His gun then jammed which gave the tow truck driver time to escape, WPTV reported.
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.