He fatally shot a Florida trooper over a tow truck, cops say. The two had met before

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  • Joseph Bullock
    British Member of Parliament (1731-1808)
  • William Snyder
    American politician

Just hours before he was shot to death, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper had a brief, unremarkable roadside encounter with the man who would kill him, Martin County Sheriff’s investigators said Friday.

It was one of the new details that emerged as the Martin County Sheriff’s Office announced the conclusion of its investigation into the murder of trooper Joseph Bullock, 42, who Franklin Reed III shot and killed Feb. 5 near Palm City. While the Herald had previously reported some of the information, investigators later discovered that two had met just hours before the encounter that ended in the trooper’s death.

“Nothing I answer will change the fact that the murder of trooper Bullock was an unprovoked, premeditated murder,” Martin County Sheriff William Snyder told reporters at Friday’s news conference.

Deputies said Bullock had pulled over to help the 28-year-old Reed, whose Dodge Durango was parked on the side of Interstate 95, perpendicular to the highway. The trooper’s dash camera was on during this interaction.

Reed told Bullock that he’d handle it so the trooper left the scene. But when someone called 911 to report an accident, the trooper returned and called a tow truck.

The tow truck arrived and hooked up the Durango. A debate over payment arose between the driver and Reed who investigators believe soon became angry, according to Snyder

“Although we will never know with certainty the suspect’s motive, it’s possible that the tow bill dispute played a role in the homicide,” Snyder said.

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joseph Bullock
Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joseph Bullock

The uncertainty stems from Bullock not turning on his camera before the encounter. Detectives concluded that Reed then walked over to Bullock and shot the trooper in the head as he sat in the driver’s seat of his patrol car.

There’s no indication that Bullock saw what was coming or that he could’ve prevented it, Snyder said.

According to investigators, Reed’s gun jammed, allowing the tow truck driver to escape.

Off-duty Riviera Beach Police Officer Jemel Headings stopped to help Bullock and began trading gunfire with Reed, who was eventually struck in the chest. The wound was not immediately fatal. Reed then put his gun to his head and took his own life.

Bullock was a 19-year FHP veteran who Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said “wanted to be a cop since he was [age] 5.”

Reed had a college degree, a legal conceal-carry permit and was on his way to work when his vehicle broke down, according to CBS12. He had no previous criminal history, however, Snyder said he was suspected of stealing a gold medallion the day before the shooting.

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