Nassau County sheriff: Keep deputy shot ‘in your prayers’

Deputy Joshua Moyers ‘very critical’ after he was shot twice during traffic stop

Other Nassau County deputies gather outside the ER at UF Health awaiting word on Deputy Josh Moyers, who was reported to be in extremely critical condition.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Nassau County deputy is clinging to life at UF Health Jacksonville after he was shot early Friday morning during a traffic stop of a stolen minivan.

Sheriff Bill Leeper said Deputy Joshua Moyers was shot twice -- once in the face, once in the back as he fell to the ground.

The entire incident was recorded by an NCSO camera.

“It’s very critical. We’re not sure if he’s going to make it or not,” Leeper said, trying to keep his composure. “Everybody, please keep them in your prayers.”

During an evening news conference, Leeper said the deputy’s family was flying in around 6 p.m. He thanked the community for an outpouring of support.

“Without their support, we couldn’t do what we do, couldn’t be as successful as we are,” Leeper said.

Moyers, 29, was hired as a Nassau County deputy in 2015 and Leeper called him “a great guy.”

Leeper said Moyers was recently engaged to be married.

Leeper visited Moyers in the hospital and met with his fiancée and parents.

Deputy Joshua Moyers was shot twice during an early morning traffic stop -- once in the face, once in the back as he fell to the ground.

Several Nassau County deputies, some in dress uniform, stood watch outside UF Health’s emergency room Friday morning awaiting word on their fellow officer.

“Officers are going to support each other in times like this,” News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said. “They are going to be here and they are here to provide that peace in that comfort, as much as they possibly can. They’re praying for each other. They’re praying for the family.”

Moyers was a 2010 graduate of Hilliard Middle-Senior High School and received law enforcement training at St. Johns River State College. The Sheriff’s Office said Moyers spent two years with the county’s Explorer program before he was hired as a deputy. He was given an award in 2018 for going above and beyond the call of duty on a narcotics case.

The photo below was taken in 2012 and posted by the Justice Coalition when Moyers was in the Explorer program.

This photo was taken in 2012 and posted on Facebook by the Justice Coalition when Moyers was in the Explorer program.

First Baptist Church of Yulee posted on Facebook that it was offering prayers for Moyers, who had sat outside their worship service on many Sundays, calling him a “great young deputy.”

“First Baptist joins in prayer for Deputy Moyers, his fiance and his parents knowing God is able to heal and deliver. We also are praying for Sheriff Leeper and the entire Nassau County Sheriff Department! #weareone”

The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a 35-year-old man wanted in connection with the shooting. A spokeswoman for the sheriff said Patrick McDowell (pictured below) is considered “armed and dangerous.” If you see him, you are asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 904-548-4000.

Patrick McDowell is considered armed and dangerous.

A woman inside the vehicle with McDowell during the traffic stop of a minivan stolen from Jacksonville remained at the scene and is cooperating with investigators, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and state patrol personnel have been seen searching on U.S. 301 near Higginbotham Road and Sandy Ford Road since early Friday morning.

Patrick McDowell is a former Marine who was stopped driving a stolen car in Callahan early Friday morning.

Leeper said a JSO K9 that came to assist the search for the suspect was also shot but is expected to be recover.

About the Authors: