NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. — The Nassau County Sheriff is asking for prayers for one of his deputies who's in "very critical condition" after being shot during a traffic stop early Friday. Sheriff Bill Leeper gave more details on the shooting during a noon news conference.
Deputy Joshua Moyers initiated a traffic stop at around 2:30 a.m. Before stopping, the suspect's vehicle turned off of State Road 200 on to Sandy Ford Road, Leeper said.
Moyers got out of his patrol car and approached the vehicle which was driven by a man with a woman in the passenger seat. While attempting to get information from the driver, Moyers learned that he did not have a driver's license and the tags on the vehicle were registered to a vehicle that was stolen in Jacksonville. The driver then gave the deputy a false name, Leeper said.
Moyers asked the driver if he had any weapons and asked him to step out of the vehicle, Leeper said.
A visually emotional sheriff then gave the accounts of what he saw recorded on video.
Moyers grabbed the handle of the suspect's vehicle to open the door as a nearby train approached the intersection. The railroad crossing safety lights began flashing and bells ringing, Leeper said.
“The driver’s arm came out of the window and shot the deputy one time right here,” Leeper said pointing under his right eye. “As the deputy fell down, he (suspect) reached out and shot him in the back.”
The suspect then sped off through the railroad crossing barely missing the railroad crossing arms that were coming down, Leeper said.
He proceeded to a nearby dirt road in a rural residential area. Another deputy who was coming to assist arrived on the scene and found Moyers on the ground, Leeper said.
Crews found the suspect's vehicle abandoned in a wooded area. The driver and passenger hid under a shed. Leeper said they learned that bit of information from the female passenger who is now in custody.
She told investigators that she told the driver that “she didn’t want any part of it,” Leeper said. She left the driver and called 911. Leeper said the passenger identified the shooter as Patrick McDowell.
Tracking dogs were brought to the scene to search for the McDowell. During the search, McDowell shot a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office K9 with a rifle, Leeper said. That rifle was later found by officers nearby. The K9 was taken to the veterinarian and is expected to be OK, Leeper said.
"I did go down to the hospital to see him," Leeper said. "He (Moyers) is just a great guy. ... We’re not sure if he’s going to make it or not. I talked with his mother and father and his fiancé. They were planning their wedding. I just ask that everybody keep them in their prayers."
Moyers received the ABCD Award for going above and beyond the call of duty in a narcotics case, according to the Nassau County Sheriff's Office. He graduated from St. Johns River State College and is a 2010 graduate of Hilliard Middle-Senior High School.
Fifteen other agencies, local, state and federal, are assisting in the search for McDowell. He is considered armed and dangerous.