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Driver who killed Fla. trooper was 'irate' about tow truck payment

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Michelle Marchante and David Goodhue
Miami Herald

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — The flag flew at half staff outside Florida Highway Patrol headquarters in Fort Pierce on Thursday, and mourners left balloons at the gate to remember Joseph Bullock, the trooper who was shot and killed on I-95 after he stopped to help a stranded driver.

On the highway, troopers held an American flag at mile marker 107 in Martin County — the somber spot where Bullock was killed.

The gunman, whom the Martin County Sheriff’s Office identified Thursday as Franklin Reed, III, 28, of Palm Bay, also was killed, shot dead by a passing police officer from Riviera Beach, a suburb of West Palm Beach.

Law enforcement agencies investigating the shooting have not said what happened Wednesday morning on Interstate 95 near Palm City. But witnesses say it began when the stranded driver got into an argument with a tow truck driver, according to local media.

The truck driver who was called to help with the stranded vehicle told witnesses the driver was “irate” at having to pay for a tow, according to WPTV in West Palm Beach. Reed then apparently pulled a gun. His gun reportedly jammed, giving the tow truck driver time to escape.

There were six shots,” witness Randy Pitino told WFLX. “I heard gunfire first, and then I saw gunfire back from the Riviera Beach officer.”

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating Reed’s death, while Martin County is investigating the shooting of Trooper Bullock, said Gretl Plessinger, FDLE spokeswoman.

Christine Weiss, public information officer with the Martin sheriff’s office, said the investigation is still in its beginning stages.

“Over the next few days, our criminal investigations detectives will continue to work closely with the State Attorney’s Office as they question witnesses and begin the process of seeking and conducting search warrants on the vehicles involved in this homicide, including Trooper Bullock’s patrol car and Reed’s SUV,” Weiss said in a statement. “This is still an active investigation, and there is much work to be done.”