Suspect’s military background playing into Nassau County manhunt

Patrick McDowell, 35, wanted in shooting of deputy during traffic stop

The Nassau County Sheriff's Office is considering McDowell's military background in the multi-agency search for him. News4Jax reporter Corley Peel shows us how his training could be helping him hide.

As it continues to search through 5 square miles of rural Nassau County for a 35-year-old man accused of shooting a deputy, the Sheriff’s Office said it’s considering shooting suspect Patrick McDowell’s military background.

Crews of at least 300 investigators are searching high and low for McDowell, who served in the U.S. Marines. He’s accused of shooting Deputy Joshua Moyers early Friday morning during a traffic stop on Sandy Ford Road near U.S. 301 in Callahan.

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News4Jax asked Marine veteran Dallas Harpe, a Nassau County resident, how McDowell’s training might factor into his ability to avoid capture.

“A man could survive in the woods with the training that he’s got up to 30 days or so,” said Harpe, who served as a small arms and rifle instructor and understands the type of survival training McDowell likely has.

Crews are searching an area that includes a mixture of homes, hunting camps and large wooded areas for McDowell.

GALLERY: Manhunt for Patrick McDowell, man accused of shooting deputy

“The most important part of the basic training that would be helping him is when you’re going through infantry training, you’re taught to camouflage yourself, blend in with your surroundings. You’re taught discipline where you can remain absolutely still no matter what’s going on around you and the ability to move quietly through the woods,” said Harpe. “It looks like there’s a lot of wetlands, so a man could slip through where it’s wet and his scent would be lost to the dogs and that would help him hide. If he walks through water, they’ll lose the scent.”

Heat detecting technology, helicopters and drones are also being used in the search.

“You could have all the training in the world, but you can’t hide your body heat from heat sensors unless you have special material, and I doubt that he has (that) because of the way that he entered the woods,” said Harpe.

Surveillance photos (pictured below) show what McDowell was last known the be wearing. So far, crews have found a flashlight and a hat believed to be McDowell’s.

What News4Jax has learned about man suspected of shooting Nassau County Deputy

McDowell is believed to be armed and dangerous. If you see him, call 911.

Who is Patrick McDowell?

Duval County court records show McDowell lived at a home on Hiddenwoods Estate Road back in 2019. The Jacksonville property n belongs to the parents of Bryant Samuelson, who spoke with the I-TEAM.

“They moved into this house out here, and they stayed there for about five, six years,” Samuelson said.

Samuelson said he didn’t know McDowell well.

“He and I stayed completely apart. I didn’t get along with him. He wasn’t the type of person I would associate with,” Samuelson said.

He said he wasn’t surprised when he learned what McDowell was accused of doing.

According to the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, McDowell was arrested in Georgia in 2005 for burglary, stolen firearms and criminal property damage.

Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office records show he was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine in 2019.

According to the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, in 2020, McDowell was arrested in Georgia for giving a false name to an officer, possession and use of drug-related objects.

Court records show McDowell was referred to veterans’ treatment court after the 2019 drug charge.

Records also show McDowell has lived in Atlantic Beach and Illinois.