Law enforcement from around country pay respects at FHP trooper’s funeral in Bradenton

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Jessica De Leon
·4 min read
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Law enforcement from around the state and country, family and friends gathered Thursday to pay their final respects to Florida Highway Patrol Master Trooper Joseph Bullock who was killed in the line of duty last week.

Bullock, 42, was shot and killed by a stranded motorist on Interstate 95 in Martin County on Feb. 5 when he pulled over and tried to help the man. Bullock’s suspected killer was then shot and killed by a Riviera Beach police officer who happened to be driving by.

“Being a cop was his lifelong goal since the age of 5,” FHP Colonel Gene Spaulding said during the funeral service at Bayside Community Church’s East Bradenton campus.

Pulling over to help a stranded driver was something Bullock was known for.

Often times he would help stranded drivers change their flat tires. Other times, he would buy them gas cans and gas, Spaulding said.

“He went out and purchased his own floor jack and carried it in his patrol car, because it was quickest way to get the motorists off the highway and to a place of safety,” Spaulding said. “That’s the kind of man Joe was.”

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

Spaulding shared the story of one mother whose car had broken down, leaving her stranded with two young children. Bullock took them to a motel, paid for their room and bought them food to ensure their safety that night.

“Last Wednesday when Joe reported for duty, he knew those dangers all too well but that didn’t stop him from trying to help someone in need,” Spaulding said.

There were many stories, laughs and tears shared during the two and a half hour-long service.

Brad Love, Bullock’s best friend, shared his memories going back to their service in the U.S. Air Force.

“While Joe and I were at Minot Air Force Base, we made a lot of great friends, friends for a lifetime. He was the glue that kept us together ... and in contact with each other,” Love said.

Love, as did many others on Thursday, spoke of Bullock’s love and dedication to family. Born on Sept. 21, 1977, in Warren, Penn., Bullock was raised in Englewood and was known to frequently visit Englewood to stay with his family.

The community and law enforcement gather at Bayside Community Church to pay respects to Florida Highway Patrol Master Trooper Joseph Bullock who was killed in the line of duty last week.
The community and law enforcement gather at Bayside Community Church to pay respects to Florida Highway Patrol Master Trooper Joseph Bullock who was killed in the line of duty last week.

Bullock is survived by his parents, Jon and Val, two sisters, Jessica and Katie, nieces Mackenzie and Madison, and nephew Brendan.

“As the flowers start to fade and tears still fall, our hearts will heal but we will never forget the legacy of Joe Bullock,” Love said.

Bullock’s partner, Trooper Michael Coulter, spoke of his booming voice and a man who was 7-foot-tall, in every way but stature.

“With Joe, my 6 was always covered,” Coulter said. “The highest respect for him was, that I always sat with my back to the door.”

Coulter said he had always looked forward to meeting Bullock’s family, but not under these circumstances.

“All I can say now is, ‘Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Bullock for my brother from another mother,’” Coulter said.

“So goodbye Trooper Bullock. And if heaven’s streets are truly guarded my U.S. Marines, please find one and take him under your wing like you did me, and I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again,” Coulter said, holding back sobs.

The community and law enforcement gather at Bayside Community Church to pay respects to Florida Highway Patrol Master Trooper Joseph Bullock who was killed in the line of duty last week.
The community and law enforcement gather at Bayside Community Church to pay respects to Florida Highway Patrol Master Trooper Joseph Bullock who was killed in the line of duty last week.

Bullock was also known for being a huge Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

Bullock’s supervisor, Sgt. Michael Lanam, shared stories of how they bantered over football. In his honor, he took out a Terrible Towel during the service and waved it as he said, “Go Steelers.”

“Joe truly loved his job as a state trooper. He choose to remain a trooper ... because he truly loved working the road,” Lanam said.

One of Bullock’s former partners, Lt. Derrick Rahming, shared a few memories of his friend with the members of media outside of Bayside Community Church after the arrival of the funeral procession and before the service began.

“When I worked with Joe on the Treasure Coast, it was an overwhelming experience to know Joe,” Rahming said. “Joe was one of those people that when you met him , you instantly loved Joe.”

Bullock would always go with others when they responded to calls, his friend said.

“Joe didn’t let you go by yourself. Joe would not let you go without him until he was comfortable knowing that you are able to handle that call.”

The community and law enforcement gather at Bayside Community Church to pay respects to Florida Highway Patrol Master Trooper Joseph Bullock who was killed in the line of duty last week.
The community and law enforcement gather at Bayside Community Church to pay respects to Florida Highway Patrol Master Trooper Joseph Bullock who was killed in the line of duty last week.

During his 19-year with the agency, Bullock helped train most of the troopers in the area, according to Rahming.

“The Treasure Coast is a better place because of Joe,” he said. “Joe was a leader. Joe was a friend. When Joe talked, it meant something.”

After the funeral service Bullock was laid to rest at Sarasota National Cemetery.

Funeral services for Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joseph Bullock, who was shot to death in the line of duty last week, are Thursday in Bradenton and Sarasota. He was born in Pennsylvania but raised in Sarasota County.
Funeral services for Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joseph Bullock, who was shot to death in the line of duty last week, are Thursday in Bradenton and Sarasota. He was born in Pennsylvania but raised in Sarasota County.