Martin County, FL – Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Trooper Joseph Bullock was murdered in the line of duty on Wednesday morning after he stopped to help the driver of a potentially disabled vehicle.
The incident occurred on Interstate 95 near mile marker 107 at approximately 10:15 a.m., WPEC reported.
FHP Commander Colonel Gene Spaulding said that the 42-year-old trooper had been speaking with the suspect on the side of the interstate for several minutes before the suspect fatally shot him, according to the New York Post.
A tow truck driver who witnessed the trooper’s murder said that the gunman was irate about having to pay to have his vehicle towed, WPTV reported.
According to witnesses, the tow truck driver was able to escape after Trooper Bullock was shot because the gunman’s weapon jammed.
A Riviera Beach police officer happened to be driving by when the shooting took place, WPTV reported.
The officer was able to shoot the gunman, who died at the scene.
Trooper Bullock was a 19-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol, according to a post on Twitter by the Florida Department of Highway Safety.
“The entire Florida Highway Patrol and FLHSMV family mourns today for the loss of one of our own, FHP Trooper Joseph Bullock. Please keep his family and his team members in your prayers,” the agency wrote.
He was also a U.S. Air Force veteran, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Trooper Bullock was assigned to Troop L in Fort Pierce, where he served as a mentor and field training officer in addition to his patrol duties, WFLX reported.
In September of 2019, Trooper Bullock was credited for helping save the life of a person who was trapped inside an overturned van that was sitting in three feet of water, WPEC reported.
“The passenger was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital and is alive due in part to Trooper Bullock,” FHP Sergeant Michael Lanam wrote in a letter nominating Trooper Bullock for Trooper of the Month.
The crash occurred just two miles down the interstate from where Trooper Bullock was fatally shot.
“It’s tragic to lose a brother who protects the citizens of this state,” Col. Spaulding said, according to WPEC. “It’s like losing a family member.”
Retired Martin County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Dale Howard said he worked alongside Trooper Bullock for years before his retirement in 2017, USA Today reported.
“I can tell you, I always found him very personable, totally professional, compassionate and he was dedicated to the Florida Highway Patrol and to all the citizens of the state of Florida,” the retired sergeant said. “He was dedicated to the Florida Highway Patrol. That was something he totally enjoyed.”
Trooper Bullock leaves behind his parents and his two sisters, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joseph Bullock, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Trooper Joseph Bullock, your life mattered.