JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Family, friends, law enforcement colleagues from across the state and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis attended a memorial service Thursday for Trooper Joseph Bullock in his hometown of Bradenton.
Bullock was fatally shot after stopping to help a motorist on Interstate 95 in Martin County. A Riviera Beach police officer who was passing by shot the gunman, killing him. A tow truck driver claimed the motorist was upset about having to pay for the service when he shot Bullock.
The body of the Air Force veteran and 19-year state trooper arrived at Bayside Community Church by a procession of law enforcement officers. His casket was draped with an American flag.
“You were the trooper that all of us strive to be,” said Col. Gene Spaulding with Florida Highway Patrol.
People who knew him said Bullock always wanted to help people and he especially had a heart for stranded motorists.
“Countless times he purchased gas cans and fuel with his own money, helping stranded motorists in need. That’s the kind of guy Joe was," Spaulding said.
After the service and another procession, Bullock was laid to rest Sarasota National Cemetery
“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 and attended Thursday’s service. “He did a good job. He was always positive.”
Bryan said the two remained friends. He was heartbroken to learn the news of Bullock’s death.
“I don’t want to say anything is routine, but this is following the daily action of an FHP trooper on the side of the road,” Bryan noted.
Bryan said he admired Bullock’s dedication and passion.
“Not only a classmate but a friend,” he said. “My hero man. He pretty much took the motto of the Highway Patrol and lived it every day.”
Funny, friendly, forgiving; Bullock was well-respected by his peers. Men and women honored him with a procession, escorting his body from the scene. It was a difficult sight for those who have devoted their lives to protecting others.
“We know there are dangers,” Bryan said. “We know we may not come home to our families. It doesn’t stop us. The work continues. The wheels of justice will always continue to spin.”
Bullock leaves behind his parents, sisters and a girlfriend who works for FHP, Bryan said.
Bullock is the 49th person from FHP to be killed in the past 80 years and the third within the past year.
Flags were ordered flown at half-staff Thursday at all government buildings in Sarasota, Bradenton, Fort Pierce and Tallahassee.