Police in Florida have told residents to shoot a former US marine who is on the run after allegedly killing a sheriffs’ deputy during a traffic stop.
Bill Leeper, the sheriff of Nassau County in Florida, described suspect Patrick McDowell as a “rabid animal” and warned residents to “blow him out the door” if he tried to break into their house.
On Monday morning his department raised the reward for information leading to McDowell’s capture to $54,000 after deputy Joshua Moyers died of his wounds on Sunday afternoon.
Mr Leeper said: “If you’re in a home, and he breaks in your home and you have a gun, blow him out the door. Because he’s like a rabid animal. He will kill you.”
More than 300 investigators from multiple agencies are searching for McDowell, a 35-year-old former soldier who police say was stopped while driving a stolen minivan with a female passenger and no driver’s licence.
Deputy Moyers, 29, was shot in the face and back at around 2:30am when he tried to stop McDowell by a railway crossing in north-eastern Florida on US Highway 301. Officers said that one of their dogs was also shot with a rifle during the manhunt.
McDowell is described as a six-foot tall white man with a tattoo that reads ‘Death Before Dishonor’ on his left shoulder. He reportedly served in the Marine Corps between 2005 and 2013.
According to the Florida Times-Union, he had a history of depression, seizures and post-traumatic stress syndrome, and had previously been committed for psychiatric help.
He had also been arrested on charges of giving a false name to police and possession of stolen firearms, and was sentenced to a year and a half on probation for forgery.
Del Angelo, a weapons instructor who trained McDowell when he worked as a security guard, described him as extremely dangerous and skilled at windiness survival.
He told WJXT News: “He’s very much a survivalist and he’s been military trained on survival and weapons use. So he’s very accomplished at survival and being unrecognised.”
“He can’t change his appearance but he can sure hide well and know how to stay out of people’s line of sight.”