SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - On Friday, the Martin County Sheriff's Office released more information about the fatal shooting of Trooper Joseph Bullock, who was laid to rest last week in Sarasota National Cemetery.
Sheriff William Snyder started Friday's press conference by thanking the public for their outpouring of support and asked that everyone keep the Bullock family and all families involved in their thoughts and prayers.
With that, he launched into the timeline of events.
It was the morning of February 5, 2020 and 42-year-old Trooper Bullock, an Air Force veteran and a 19-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol, was on duty along I-95. At 9:09am, he stopped in the northbound lanes near mile marker 107 in Palm City to help a disabled motorist.
The timeline video, which you can watch below, shows a brief interaction. Trooper Bullock appears comfortable as he approaches 30-year-old Franklin Reed III and speaks to him briefly, then leaves:
At 9:51am, a motorist calls 911 to report an accident with a vehicle in the grass. That call is sent to Florida Highway Patrol and Trooper Bullock responds, pulling back up to Reed's vehicle at 10:12am.
Between 10:12am and 11:18am, Trooper Bullock remains on scene with Reed, waiting for a tow truck driver. Then things become chaotic. Sheriff Snyder says the events that happened next overlapped, with multiple things happening simultaneously in a short period of time.
But it starts at 11:18am when the tow truck company calls 911 to say Trooper Bullock had been shot and Reed was now trying to shoot the tow truck driver, who is running away from Reed down the highway.
Dispatchers react immediately, sending all available units to the scene. In the meantime, a motorist heading south sees the tow truck driver running and the Florida Highway Patrol vehicle and pulls a U-turn into the northbound lanes to investigate.
At 11:19am, the motorist pulls up to the scene. Trooper Bullock has been shot and killed and is visible right near the door of his vehicle. When the motorist shuts off his car, the driver’s dash cam ends.
At the same moment, a second driver stops and, realizing what's happening, calls 911. He tries to get to Bullock, but is stopped by gunfire.
Also, in that same minute of time, an off-duty detective with Riviera Beach Police drives past and sees what appears to be a suspicious scene, so he stops to help. He’s wearing a clearly marked police vest and calls 911 after seeing Trooper Bullock on the ground.
As he's speaking to the dispatcher, the detective can be heard ordering Reed to the ground, then gunfire breaks out. The detective yells at Reed to drop the gun before more rounds can be heard. Then a pause. The detective, believing Reed was actually the tow truck driver, tells the dispatcher that Reed had shot himself in the head.
Investigators determined Reed shot at least twice at the detective with the detective firing multiple rounds in return. One of the detective’s bullets struck Reed in the center of his chest and the sheriff’s office says it would have been fatal, but Reed turned the gun on himself, ending his life.
Less than a minute later, the sheriff’s office helicopter arrives on scene and begins to record what’s happening on the ground. The detective checks Reed and Trooper Bullock and you can see Reed’s vehicle is still in the grass near the tow truck at an askew angle from when Trooper Bullock first saw the vehicle at 9:09am.
At 11:26am, Trooper Bullock was declared "Signal 7," which means dead on scene.
Investigators believe, based on records with the tow truck company’s dispatch, that Reed was upset with the tow bill, so he walked up to Trooper Bullock’s car and shot him in the head.
The tow truck driver told investigators that Reed did not have money to pay for the tow, but Reed's vehicle had already been hooked, which means he would be billed. Trooper Bullock was waiting on scene while the tow truck driver and Reed worked out an arrangement.
Before shooting Trooper Bullock, the tow truck driver says he saw Reed walk over to the patrol car, believing, without fear, that Reed was informing Trooper Bullock a deal had been reached. Instead, the tow truck driver says Reed shot Trooper Bullock in the head while he sat in his car, shooting him at point blank range.
Authorities say Reed tried to then shoot the tow truck driver, but his gun jammed, giving the tow truck driver the window he needed to run towards the southbound lanes to seek help.
The sheriff’s office says other than a theft at a retail store the day before killing Trooper Bullock, Reed had no documented criminal history.
Trooper Bullock was laid to rest on February 13. Thousands gathered to pay their respects, lining the route from the Robert Toale and Sons Funeral home to Bayside Community Church in Bradenton.
“When it’s close to home it hurts a little bit extra and this one was really a sincere gut punch to me,” said Sgt. Dylan Bryan with the Florida Highway Patrol Troop G.
The service began at 11 a.m. and you can watch the complete service at the church below:
“He always wanted to be a cop like his father,” said FHP Colonel Gene Spaulding.
Although the Air Force veteran worked his nearly two decade career on the other coast of Florida, Trooper Bullock’s family is from Englewood and he was laid to rest at the Sarasota National Cemetery.
The second procession from the church to the cemetery involved multiple agencies and began around 1:15 p.m.
A Law Enforcement Honors service was scheduled to begin at 2:30pm at Patriot Plaza, but due to the length of the procession was delayed by around an hour. The honors ceremony consisted of the honor guard flag presentation, last call, a 21-gun salute, and a flyover.
You can watch the full video below (the video begins without sound for several minutes as people arrive to the cemetery) which includes interviews with those who knew Trooper Bullock at the end:
Many shared fond memories of Trooper Bullock.
“He will live forever no matter what he is a legend,” said Trooper Mellow Scheetz with FHP Troop L.
They all said Bullock was an exemplary trooper.
“Whenever you went to a call, Joe went to the call with you. Joe didn’t let you go by himself,” said Lt. Derrick Rahming, Sr.
A respected trooper and someone who will never be forgotten.