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State trooper, an Air Force veteran, killed assisting motorist in Florida

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper and U.S. Air Force veteran was shot and killed Wednesday on an interstate in Martin County, Florida.

Trooper Joseph Bullock, 42, stopped to “assist what he believed to be a disabled motorist at about 10:15 a.m.” when “one of the occupants of the vehicle fatally shot him as he approached,” according to Office Down Memorial Page (ODMP), a nonprofit organization that tracks and honors fallen law enforcement officers.

Bullock served with the Air Force for four years, leaving in 1999 as a senior airman. His last job was as a tactical escort flight team member at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

After leaving the Air Force, he served “19 years with the Florida Highway Patrol and was assigned to Troop L – Fort Pierce for his entire career,” a press release stated.

A passing police officer from Riviera Beach, Florida, fatally shot the suspect, whose name has not been released, according to Col. Gene Spaulding, commander of the Florida Highway Patrol.

Spaulding said that Bullock had been with the shooter for several minutes before the shooting. He released no further information, saying the shooting is under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

“People don’t realize when you approach a car, even a disabled vehicle or a car on a traffic stop, you are worried about not only what is inside that car and what danger is waiting for you, you are also worried about the 80,000-pound tractor-trailers that are barreling down the highway behind you,” Spaulding said.

Bullock is the 15th law enforcement officer – and sixth military veteran – to die in the line of duty this year, according to statistics from ODMP.

“He was just a very personable, very nice guy,” Dale Howard, a retired sergeant with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office who worked alongside Bullock, told TCPalm. “He was dedicated to the Florida Highway Patrol. That was something he totally enjoyed.”

Bullock was nominated for “Trooper of the Month” recognition in September 2019 for pulling a passenger from an overturned, partially submerged van involved in a crash, according to a post on Bullock’s Facebook.

Trooper Bullock is survived by his parents and two sisters, according to ODMP.

This story contains information from the Associated Press.

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