YULEE, Fla. – “Officer Down!”
It’s the call no deputy wants to hear on their radio.
But on Sept. 23, 2021, that call went out from Nassau County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Barnes after Deputy Joshua Moyers was shot twice during an early morning traffic stop on US 301.
The call immediately brought help from fellow deputies and paramedics, who rushed into action to do everything they could to save Moyers’ life.
He had been shot in the face and the back — and he wasn’t breathing.
The first four deputies to arrive at the scene after Barnes’ call took turns with Barnes administering CPR to Moyers until paramedics arrived.
Deputy Hall said he ran back to his patrol vehicle at one point, frantically throwing things from the trunk to get out the AED and other medical supplies. Deputy Cone said once they had the AED, he cut Moyers’ shirt open so the AED pads could be applied.
Once paramedics arrived, Hall directed them to Moyers, explaining his injuries, and then the deputies helped move Moyers onto the stretcher.
Deputy Holmberg, who had also been helping with CPR at the scene, gave the ambulance an emergency escort to prevent delays in arriving at UF Health Jacksonville’s trauma center.
Despite their efforts, Moyers’ injuries were too severe. He died days later at the hospital.
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Days after Moyers died, Patrick McDowell, the man accused of shooting him, was cornered in a local sports complex bathroom by investigators who had been hunting for him since the night of the shooting. Moyers’ handcuffs were used to arrest him.
According to court documents, one deputy told McDowell during his arrest, “He was my friend.” McDowell’s response is redacted from the report, but the deputy answers back, “Listen man, there is only one person who can judge you for this, and it isn’t me.”
McDowell had to be treated at the hospital for two gunshot wounds he suffered while on the run. One deputy said after McDowell arrived at the hospital, he told the deputy he was a Marine, then made another comment — which is redacted from the report — and went on to tell the deputies he could not imagine what it was like for them to stand there and look at him.
McDowell was later indicted on a murder charge and faces the death penalty if convicted. His next court date is June 23.
Traffic stop turns deadly
When Moyers first turned on his lights to pull over McDowell in the burgundy-colored minivan he was driving, McDowell told the woman in the van with him, “I’m not stopping; I’m not going to jail.”
But McDowell did eventually stop, pulling off US 301 onto Sandy Ford Road, and stopping just short of the railroad tracks — a decision that would later prove fateful for Moyers.
According to the reports, McDowell gave Moyers a false name and didn’t have a driver’s license. Moyers also learned the tag on the van belonged to a different vehicle. Investigators later learned the vehicle had been stolen from Jacksonville.
The woman with McDowell told investigators later that when Moyers approached the van asking for their IDs, McDowell reached behind his seat for his handgun. Moyers asked McDowell if there was a gun inside the van, and he said no.
Just then, the railroad crossing arms activated with the bells ringing and lights flashing. Moyers turned to look at the crossing arms for just a moment, and when he turned back, McDowell had the gun in his face — and pulled the trigger, shooting Moyers just below his eye, investigators said.
Sheriff Bill Leeper said McDowell fired again and hit Moyers in the back as the deputy fell to the ground. Then he slammed on the gas and sped through the railroad crossing just as the arms were coming down, investigators said.
The encounter was captured on dashcam video from Moyers’ patrol car.
Leeper said the backup deputy that Moyers had called for arrived about 30 seconds later and found him lying in the road.
That’s when the “Officer Down” call went out.
McDowell’s mental health
Also included in new court documents obtained by News4JAX are summaries of interviews with people who knew McDowell and discussed his mental health issues, including severe PTSD and drug abuse, after his deployments in Iraq with the Marines and then as a defense contractor.
One of the interviews is with McDowell’s brother, who is an FBI agent.
The brother told investigators that McDowell said during his time in Iraq, he lost friends and “killed quite a few people.” The brother said a Veterans Affairs counselor once told McDowell that he needed to get over the deaths of his friends, and McDowell attacked the counselor and was banned from the clinic.
The brother said he did not think McDowell was the type of person to shoot a police officer, given that his brother and stepfather who raised him were both law officers.
The brother said McDowell “is not the same person he knew a few years ago.”
A friend who knew McDowell from their work at a private security firm told investigators something similar — that McDowell “was not the Patrick he once knew.” The friend said McDowell’s life went on a “downward spiral” after the suicide of a fellow former Marine.