An Air Force veteran who'd worked for the Florida Highway Patrol for nearly two decades was shot dead Wednesday morning while assisting a driver on a stretch of highway near Palm City in Martin County. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles announced that Joseph Bullock, 42, was "fatally wounded in the line of duty" while helping a motorist on Interstate 95, TCPalm.com reports. FHP Director Col. Gene Spaulding says Bullock had been with the motorist near the I-95 rest area for a few minutes before the shooting, which took place around 10:15am, per Fox News. Although an earlier FHP release had stated the shooter took his own life after gunning down Bullock, Spaulding now says the suspect was shot and killed by a Riviera Beach officer who was passing by, per WCTV. Police haven't yet speculated about a motive.
Spaulding notes potential perils for police officers along highways like this. "People don't realize when you approach a car, even a disabled vehicle or a car on a traffic stop, you are worried about not only what is inside that car and what danger is waiting for you, you are also worried about the 80,000-pound tractor-trailers that are barreling down the highway behind you," he says, adding that Bullock is the 49th Florida trooper in the agency's history to die on the job. "The entire Florida Highway Patrol and FLHSMV family mourns today for the loss of one of our own," the FLHSMV posted online Wednesday. "Please keep his family and his team members in your prayers." Spaulding says Bullock is survived by his parents and two sisters. (Read more police shooting stories.)