A large manhunt is underway in Nassau County, Florida, for a man accused of shooting and killing a law enforcement officer — and the county sheriff is telling armed citizens to open fire on the suspect should he target their homes.
What are the details?
On Saturday, Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper instructed those members of the public who have guns to use them to “blow [Patrick McDowell] out the door” of their homes.
McDowell, 35, is wanted for allegedly shooting sheriff’s deputy Joshua Moyers during a traffic stop on Friday. According to the Florida Times-Union, McDowell shot Moyers once in the face, below his right eye, and again in the back after the officer collapsed to the ground.
The 29-year-old deputy succumbed to his injuries and passed away Sunday afternoon, multiple local news outlets reported.
In the news conference Saturday, Leeper said, “We now have a murderer on the loose in our community.”
“This guy is dangerous. If you’re in a home and he breaks into your home and you have a gun, blow him out the door, because he’s like a rabid animal. He will kill you with his mindset. What he did to that deputy was uncalled for, unnecessary, and he needs to pay for it,” the sheriff said.
Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper gives update on Josh Moyers’ condition, manhunt for suspected shoo
Leeper also emphasized that law enforcement will take action against anyone who helps McDowell in his efforts to evade arrest.
“If we find out anybody has helped him or is going to help him, do not do that. If we find out you’ve helped this guy, we’re going to arrest you. We’re going to arrest you. We’re going to arrest you for preventing us from capturing him,” he warned.
The Times-Union reported that there are presently more than 300 personnel from multiple law enforcement agencies using helicopters, drones, and all-terrain vehicles to search for McDowell.
The sheriff’s office is also requesting anyone with knowledge about the suspect or his whereabouts to come forward under the promise of up to $50,000 in rewards.
McDowell is a former U.S. Marine who reportedly served in Iraq. His father told reporters that his son “hasn’t been the same since he returned from Iraq” and that he “struggled with [post-traumatic stress disorder.]”
“No excuses for what he did,” the father added. “I hope no one else is hurt apprehending him.”
The alleged murder was caught on Moyers’ body camera. The footage reportedly showed that McDowell did not have a license and provided a false name to Moyers during the traffic stop and that, when Moyer returned to the vehicle, McDowell pulled out a handgun and started shooting.