Two FL sheriff's deputies fatally shot

April 25, 2009 8:21:07 PM PDT
Two north Florida sheriff's deputies were fatally shot at a shooting range by a suspect who was later killed by deputies after he fled across the county line, authorities said. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

It happened around 1 p.m. Saturday when the two Okaloosa County deputies went to Shoal River Sporting Clays and Shooting Center in response to a domestic violence call, sheriff's officials said.

Deputies Burt Lopez and Deputy Warren "Skip" York were pronounced dead after being airlifted to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, about 45 miles away, the sheriff's office said. Sheriff's officials identified their killer as Joshua Cartwright, 28, of Fort Walton Beach.

Authorities said the suspect shot both deputies and took off toward neighboring Walton County, where he was shot and killed by deputies.

A witness, Mark Illich was near the DeFuniak Springs intersection where the officers killed Cartwright.

"It must have been like 30 or 40 shots," Illich told The Northwest Florida Daily News.

Illich said he saw one officer putting down spikes at the intersection and knew "something's about to happen."

Then, "(Cartwright's) truck, he started coming. And we saw him, and he seemed calm as a cucumber," Illich said.

Cartwright veered around the spike strip, and an officer opened fire at the back of his truck, Illich said.

The incident began shortly after 10 a.m. when the Fort Walton Beach Medical Center notified the sheriff's office that Cartwright's wife said she had been beaten by her husband, according to a timeline released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the sheriff's office.

The two deputies found Cartwright at the shooting range and began trying to arrest him shortly before 1 p.m., but they reported that he was refusing to cooperate with their attempts to handcuff him.

At 12:51 p.m. dispatchers received a call that an officer had been hit and began their search for Cartwright, who had left the shooting range in his truck.

Deputies shot at killed Cartwright around 1:10 p.m.

The Daily News reported that Cartwright had been arrested in November on a charge of domestic battery against his wife, and that the charge was still pending. The paper said he had worked as a bouncer at a Fort Walton Beach bar.

A man who answered the telephone at the shooting center near Crestview said he had no comment on the shooting.

Another Okaloosa County sheriff's deputy was shot and killed in July following a standoff with a man who had barricaded himself inside a home.

Okaloosa County Sheriff Charles Morris was suspended by Gov. Charlie Crist in February after he was arrested by FBI agents while on a gambling trip to Las Vegas.

Morris and his former office manager were indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday on theft, money laundering and conspiracy charges. Prosecutors allege Morris and his former office manager, Teresa Adams, created fictitious bonuses for sheriff's department employees then pocketed some of the money.

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