PALM CITY, Fla. (WSVN) — A Florida Highway Patrol trooper and another man were killed along Interstate 95 near Stuart in what authorities described as a police-involved shooting, leading them to shut down the highway for hours.
A heavy police response could be seen at mile marker 107, including a mobile command center, following the fatal shooting just north of Palm Beach in Martin County, at around 11:30 a.m., Wednesday.
Hours later, cameras captured dozens of law enforcement vehicles forming a procession in the northbound lanes of I-95.
Speaking at a news conference, Wednesday afternoon, FHP Col. Gene Spaulding said the trooper, identified as 42-year-old Joseph Bullock, had pulled over to render aid to the subject.
“Trooper Bullock was assisting a disabled vehicle on I-95 northbound near mile marker 107, just south of Martin Highway, when the suspect who was with the disabled vehicle shot him, resulting in fatal injuries,” said Spaulding.
Officials said an off-duty Riviera Beach Police officer who was driving by at the moment witnessed the scene and stopped.
“A Riviera Beach Police officer who was passing by engaged the suspect, fatally shooting him,” said Spaulding.
The Martin County Sheriff’s Department shut down both north and southbound lanes at mile marker 107. It was reopened to traffic at around 5:45 p.m.
In a statement released late Wednesday afternoon, an FHP spokesperson wrote, “Today, the entire Florida Highway Patrol and FLHSMV family is heartbroken as we mourn the tragic loss of Trooper Joseph Bullock … a nearly 19-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol who chose to make selflessly serving and protecting others his life’s work.”
In a tweet sent earlier in the day, the sheriff’s office said they expected to have the highway closed for several hours.
7Skyforce flew over the scene where a tarp covering a body could be seen next to the driver’s side of a Florida High Patrol cruiser with its door open.
Not far away, near a tow truck, there was a second tarp covering another body.
Also observed at the scene were two other vehicles and two tractor trailers that may have somehow been involved.
On the ground, news cameras captured troopers hugging a woman.
“It’s truly a tragedy, and it will take a long time for the Florida Highway Patrol to heal,” said Spaulding.
Officials have not confirmed the identity of the second person killed.
Bullock, a U.S. Air Force veteran, spent his entire law enforcement career serving in Fort Pierce. He is survived by his parents and two sisters.
Hours after his death, flags were seen flying at half-staff at the FHP station in Miami.
“Joe was one of the troopers who went out every day, did his job quietly, professionally and with the utmost dedication,” said Spaulding.
Just before 6 p.m., cameras captured a Martin County Fire Rescue truck being escorted by motorcycle officers as they delivered Bullock’s body to the medical examiner’s office.
As the investigation continues, family and friends are left grappling with the sudden tragedy.
“You’re not gonna get rich being a cop. Cops are doing this because they’re called to do it,” said Spaulding.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Martin County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the incident in close consultation with the State Attorney’s Office.
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