Officials: Man shot at Florida Panhandle deputies; 1 wounded

Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley, far left, and other sheriff's office personnel and emergency responders work at the scene of a law office in Shalimar, Fla., where a deputy sheriff was shot Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. The suspect then 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. Central time. (Devon Ravine/Northwest Florida Daily News via AP)

SHALIMAR, Fla. (AP) — A gunman shot and critically wounded a sheriff’s deputy during a confrontation outside a lawyer’s office Tuesday and then barricaded himself inside a motel, where he exchanged gunfire with other deputies before he was captured, officials on the Florida Panhandle said.

The man was taken into custody just before 10:30 a.m. Central time, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. He had briefly barricaded himself at the Comfort Suites in Niceville, which is near the attorney’s office in Shalimar where officials say he shot the deputy.

Neither the suspect nor the deputy’s names were released. The wounded deputy was undergoing surgery, and no one else was hurt, officials said. It was unclear what prompted the shooting, and officials didn’t give details.

Annie Allen works at an awning business next to the law firm. Allen said she and her boss were starting their day when six to eight gunshots rang out.

“We heard ‘pop, pop, pop,’” she said.

Allen said she called 911, and her boss ran outside, where he encountered the gunman leaving the law office.

Her boss took pictures with his cellphone and followed the gunman in his car, Allen said.

“The guy got in his truck and just tore out of the parking lot,” she said.

Allen said she saw the sheriff’s deputy on the ground moments later.

“When I realized it was an officer that he shot, that’s when it really hit me how dangerous it was,” she said.

Electric company crews were working nearby, and those men also called 911 and stayed with the deputy until help arrived, Allen said.

She said she and her boss talked to investigators and gave them the cellphone photos and license plate information.

Hours later, Allen was still visibly shaken.

“When someone shoots a law officer, they have nothing to lose,” she said. “It is good more people weren’t hurt.”

A Comfort Suites guest, David Bump of Ozark, Alabama, said he awoke Tuesday to deputies pounding at his room.

“I opened the door and they had their guns drawn,” he said.

Bump said officers took him and other guests across the street, where they spent hours watching the standoff.

“When they brought the guy out, he was on a gurney with his face covered,” said Bump, who was working in the area as part of a construction crew.

He sat in the parking lot later, watching investigators enter and exit the hotel.

“They just now let me go back in and get my cellphone and cigarettes,” he said.

___

Information from: Northwest Florida Daily News (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.),http://www.nwfdailynews.com

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