FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – An investigation into the fatal shooting of a Florida Highway Patrol trooper concluded the attack came without warning.
A sheriff’s investigation released Friday showed that Trooper Joseph Bullock was sitting in his patrol car Feb. 5 alongside Interstate 95 when a motorist he had been helping suddenly pulled a gun and shot him in the head.
Reed pulled a gun and shot Bullock and then turned his gun on the tow truck driver, but it jammed, Snyder said. The tow truck driver ran through the trees to the other side of the swale and waved for help along the busy highway, gaining the attention of passing motorists including Riviera Beach Police Detective Jemel Headings, who was driving to work.
Headings spotted Bullock lying on the ground next to his patrol car, so he made a U-turn through the swale. As he called 911 to get assistance for Bullock, he spotted Reed, who pointed his gun at him, Snyder said. On the 911 call, Headings can be heard yelling at Reed to drop his gun before an exchange of gunfire erupts. Snyder said Headings shot Reed in the chest, a wound that would have been fatal if Reed hadn’t then shot himself in the head, dying instantly.
Snyder said Headings did a “phenomenal job” as he came upon a confusing situation where he thought he was assisting an injured trooper only to find himself confronting a gunman “who had nothing left to live for.” He said if Headings hadn’t engaged Reed, there likely would have been a larger shootout as a swarm of law enforcement soon arrived.
“There would have been rounds flying all over that interstate,” Snyder said. “The actions of that off-duty detective were life saving.”
Snyder said it was later learned that Reed had stolen a gold medallion the previous day from a store, but he didn’t think that played any role in the shooting. He said toxicology tests to determine whether Reed had used drugs are still pending.
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