Man who shot at FHP trooper now dead
Traffic on Interstate 75 was delayed for miles as lanes were blocked by law enforcement working to catch a man who shot at a state trooper, causing a massive manhunt that slowed things down for motorists in North Central Florda.
Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in the search for the man, who was described by Alachua County Sheriff's Deputies as mentally unstable.
That man was firing shots throughout the day before he was finally taken down.
The manhunt caused bumper to bumper traffic in both directions after law enforcement shut down the area near I-75 closest to Paynes Prairie in Micanopy all the way up to the Williston Road exit in Gainesville.
Florida Highway Patrol officials say they received a call from a state trooper at around 8:30 this morning while he was inspecting a disabled vehicle near Exit 376 on I-75.
The trooper said he found a man lying near the forest line and approached him to see if he was alright.
That's when he noticed he had a gun.
"At that point in time, the trooper was seeking cover and attempting to get the person to drop their weapon. The person stood up and entered the woodline. The trooper then was going to back to his unit and of course was going to call this in, and and he heard three distinct gunshot noises," said Sargeant Tracey Hissler-Pace of Florida Highway Patrol.
FHP called out to multiple law enforcement agencies for assistance.
Officials say that it was a joint effort between multiple law enforcement agencies to conduct the search, noting it was a serious situation because of the suspect's unknown mental state.
"We don't know what his state of mind his. He has fired random shots over a period of time. So, it's not a rapid fire situation where there's an intended target that we, of which we know, but we are very concerned about this," says Sheriff Sadie Darnell of Alachua County Sheriff's Office.
The search shut down I-75 for hours both northbound and southbound.
Travelers from both in and out of the state say this is something they weren't anticipating in their travel plans.
"We thought it was, like, a wreck or something like that. We didn't think that something this serious was going on," said Shelby Lawson, who was traveling back to her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio from a vacation in South Florida.
Ultimately, a joint effort between Alachua County and Marion County Sheriff's Offices took the suspect down.
According to ASO, a rook, or an armed critical incident vehicle, was used to pin the suspect down once he was found.
Rooks have been criticized in the past for being too "heavy-duty" for local law enforcement and police stations.
Officials say gunfire was exchanged between the suspect and law enforcement officers.
The suspect threatened officers and then shot at them first before the gunfire was exchanged.
That susect is now dead, and although officials haven't specified how it happened, they felt they did their job to protect the public.
"Put yourself in the situation of this trooper doing his job this morning stopping to assist a disabled vehicle, approaches that vehicle, and then is confronted with somebody with a gun, and he's just doing his job trying to make sure that citizen is getting the service that they need and being safe. But, that trooper was threatened, and our folks have been threatened, and we're going to do what's necessary to keep our people safe and the public safe," Sheriff Darnell said.
This is currently an open and ongoing investigation being conducted by the Alachua County Sheriff's Office.
The only identification of the suspect that TV20 has been provided with is that he was a black male.
FHP is also not releasing the name of the trooper involved until the investigation is complete.
I-75 is now fully open and operational for both north and southbound lanes.
Traffic is no longer being diverted to US Highway 441.
We will have more updates as the investigation continues.
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