Sheriff: Florida man killed 2 deputies after being stunned

Sunday, April 26, 2009 | 6:57 p.m. CDT

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Two Florida sheriff's deputies were killed in a firefight on Saturday with a man they were trying to arrest on charges of domestic battery. Police say Joshua Cartwright began firing at the deputies while on the ground after being shocked with a stun gun.

"When that Taser released after five seconds, he came up shooting," interim Okaloosa County Sheriff Edward Spooner said.

Spooner said that between 30 and 40 rounds were exchanged between the 28-year-old Cartwright and the two deputies.

"He went from just being disagreeable to using deadly force in a matter of seconds," Spooner said. "It was a very aggressive move with a concealed weapon on his part."

Investigators were working to determine the extent of Cartwright's military and militia weapons training, Spooner said.

Cartwright was killed by deputies in a neighboring county after he fled a shooting range parking lot near Crestview where he killed deputies Burt Lopez and Warren "Skip" York.

Cartwright's truck flipped on its side after the tires were punctured by spikes at a roadblock.

"When he had his crash, the truck flipped upside down, nose first, and he came out of the backside of the truck firing immediately and using the truck for cover," Spooner said.

Investigators say Cartwright and deputies exchanged about 60 rounds in 30 to 40 seconds before he was shot and killed. They are awaiting autopsy results to determine whether either of the slain deputies struck Cartwright before they died.

In November, when authorities arrested Cartwright on charges of domestic battery, they listed his employer as the U.S. Army Reserves. But Spooner said Cartwright was a member of a Florida National Guard unit based in Crestview. He said Cartwright also was interested in militia groups and weapons training.

Spooner said he did not believe Cartwright was a war veteran, but that investigators are continuing to check his background.

The November domestic charge was pending against Cartwright.

Deputies went to arrest him at the gun range Saturday afternoon after taking a second domestic abuse report from his wife Elizabeth Marie Cartwright, 21, who was being treated for injuries at a local hospital.

"I don't think they did anything wrong. There was nothing to indicate he would be escalating this to any great level of violence," Spooner said.

Both deputies were wearing bulletproof vests but were shot in areas not protected by the vests, he said.

The two men were pronounced dead after being airlifted to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, about 45 miles away.

The slain deputies, both 45, were retired from the U.S. Air Force. Lopez had five children and York had a 10-year-old son.

On its Web site, the Shoal River Sporting Clays and Shooting Center said it would be closed until Wednesday as a result of Saturday's shooting.

Spooner spent Sunday morning with the families of the slain deputies and planned to meet with his 370 employees Sunday evening to discuss the shootings.

"I think we need to bring everyone together, explain what has happened and make sure their needs are being met," he said.


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