Amid reported “rampant looting” following Hurricane Michael, a Florida State Fire Marshall was involved in a fatal shooting near Panama City.
Local media outlets are reporting that the Marshall shot and killed a man attempting to steal his vehicle.
“He yelled at me a little bit. He said, oh I’m looting and he opened the door to the police officer’s SUV with the lights going, got in it and shut the door,” said Landon Swett, a witness to the event. Moving to take his family inside, Swett said he looked back to see an officer at the side of the vehicle with a gun then later heard a shot.
Florida Highway Patrol confirmed that a Marshall was involved in the shooting with WWSB noting that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the incident.
State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis has directed his agency to assist with recovery operations in the devastated area in and around Panama City in Bay County.
“Our first responders immediately ran towards the chaos when Hurricane Michael ripped through the panhandle on Wednesday and they have been working tirelessly for days to protect life and property,” said Patronis in a statement. “We must make sure these heroes have our full support during this stressful time just as they support us before, during and after disasters.”
The Bay County Sheriff’s Office advises “hundreds” of law enforcement officers from across the state have flooded into the area in addition to 850 National Guard and 600 Florida Highway Patrol State Troopers. Gov. Rick Scott’s office on Sunday activated 500 more Florida National Guard troops for deployment, bringing the total on-duty statewide to 4,000.
Michael made landfall as a 155 mph, Category 4 storm on Oct. 10 near Mexico Beach, Florida in Bay County and is estimated to have caused $8 billion in damages in addition to claiming at least 18 lives.