PALM CITY, Fla. (AP) — The family of a stranded motorist who fatally shot a Florida Highway Patrol trooper and was then killed by a passing police officer is demanding answers about what caused a routine traffic stop over a stalled car to suddenly erupt into gunfire.
The family of Franklin Reed III expressed condolences to the survivors of Trooper Joseph Bullock, but said Reed was not the type of person who would have randomly shot someone.
They say Reed, 30, had a concealed weapons permit, a college degree, no criminal record and no history of mental illness. They want to see dash cam video to understand what led up to Wednesday’s shootout on Interstate 95 as cars whizzed past.
“He’s being portrayed as this monster, you know who’s just on the rage to kill people, to kill officers,” Kamara Jenkins, Reed’s aunt, told WPEC-TV on Thursday. “No. That’s not our Franklin.”
Reed’s car had broken down as he drove to work Wednesday morning and he had pulled to the side of I-95 near Palm City, about a 45-minute drive north of West Palm Beach. Bullock and a tow truck driver arrived to assist him. After several minutes, authorities say, Reed pulled his gun and fatally shot Bullock, 42, who was a 19-year FHP veteran.
Off-duty Riviera Beach police officer Jemel Headings was driving past. Officials say he stopped, confronted Reed and fatally shot him. He has been placed on administrative leave while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates Reed’s death. Martin County sheriff’s detectives are investigating Bullock’s slaying.
Firefighter-paramedic DeWayne Watson, the Riviera Beach fire department’s spokesman, was also driving past when he saw the commotion and noticed Bullock lying next to his cruiser. He hadn’t heard shots and thought maybe Bullock had collapsed. Several drivers had stopped to help the trooper.
“People were jumping up and down,” Watson told the Palm Beach Post. “The scene was kind of chaotic.”
He pulled into the median, grabbed his medical bag from his trunk and ran across the interstate just as Headings shot Reed.
“I was 10 to 20 yards away when gunfire erupted,” Watson said. “I can’t say who was shooting who. I just saw people ducking behind cars.”
He said that by the time he got to Bullock, he was already dead.
“I see a lot of traumatic things. That kind of helped,” Watson said. “But that’s the first time I saw a law enforcement officer that was killed.”