Sheriff: Gunman dies after shootout with deputies

YULEE, Fla. -- What started with several 911 calls from a Yulee neighborhood ended in gunfire Sunday night when Nassau County Sheriff's deputies returning fire shot and killed an armed suspect, authorities said Monday.

The suspect, identified by the Sheriff's Office as 31-year-old Joshua David Merritt, was pronounced dead at the scene. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking into the shooting.

According to NCSO, someone living in the Pirates Woods neighborhood called 911 about 10:21 p.m., reporting they had heard several gun shots fired nearby. Moments later, a woman called 911, saying her friend's boyfriend was shooting a gun outside a home in the 97000 block of Pirates Way. In another 911 call from the same home, the caller told dispatchers people inside the home were afraid the gunman was going to kill them.

Deputies arriving on scene saw Merritt go inside the home armed with a small rifle. When he came back outside, he was carrying a handgun and started pointing it at deputies, the agency said. Deputies ordered Merritt to drop the gun, but instead, he allegedly opened fire. That's when deputies returned fire, wounding him.

Nassau County Fire Rescue responded, but Merritt was already dead.

First Coast News asked for copies of 911 calls and incident reports related to the shooting, but Sheriff's Office declined to provide them, citing an active investigation by FDLE. It's not yet clear exactly how many shots were fired.

Merritt has a history with law enforcement, dating back to 1999, court records show. As recently as June 2012, he was dealing with a domestic violence charge.


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