Tense standoff follows shooting of Florida sheriff's deputy

Police have captured a suspect who barricaded himself in a motel. Police believe the unnamed suspect shot and critically wounded an Okaloosa County Sheriff's deputy.

Devon Ravine/Northwest Florida Daily News/AP
Okaloosa Sheriff's Office personnel work at the scene of of a law office in Shalimar, Fla., Tuesday, where a sheriff's deputy was shot by a man who later fled to the nearby town of Niceville and barricaded himself in a hotel before exchanging gunfire with deputies. He was taken into custody just before 10:30 a.m. local time.

Police officers in Florida responded to a call about a shooting outside a law office Tuesday, not knowing that an officer had already been shot.

A gunman shot an Okaloosa County Sheriff's deputy in Shalimar, Fla., but after a standoff at a hotel near the shooting, other deputies caught the suspected shooter.

"Our crews didn't know it was an officer until they arrived on scene," Captain Ryan Christen of the Ocean City fire department told the Northwest Florida Daily News.

Local business owners gathered at the scene of the shooting to call 911 and provide help until the police and fire department arrived.

"We saw the officer lying on the ground," Shannon Gunter, manager at a carwash near the shooting, told the Northwest Florida Daily News. "When the sheriff’s office arrived, they immediately rolled him over. He was unresponsive."

The shooter fled right after the shooting, but Annie Allen, who works at a business neighboring the law office, said her boss pursued the shooter by car and took pictures on his phone. Her boss was able to provide police with license plate information and photos for the initial chase. 

"When I realized it was an officer that he shot, that's when it really hit me how dangerous it was," Ms. Allen told the Associated Press.

The gunman fled to Niceville, a town only 10 miles further inland, where he barricaded himself in a Comfort Suites motel room. 

Police quickly evacuated the guests and employees at the motel. The guests waited with police across the street and watched the hours-long standoff. David Bump, a motel guest, said he saw the suspect leave the hotel in custody.

"When they brought the guy out, he was on a gurney with his face covered," Mr. Bump told the AP. 

The shooter was taken to a hospital, but neither his name nor the injured officer's has been released. The officer was also taken to a nearby hospital and went through surgery Tuesday morning.

Those who worked in the area and witnessed the shooting were shaken by the violent event in their community. 

"(The shooting) weighs heavy on my mind,” Ms. Gunter told Northwest Florida Daily News. “We wash all of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s patrol cars. This could’ve been somebody we saw on a weekly or daily basis."

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.