PANAMA CITY, Fla. – A man trying to steal a law enforcement vehicle was shot and killed last week, hours after Hurricane Michael roared ashore in the Florida Panhandle.
The deadly encounter occurred Thursday night in hard-hit Panama City, a little more than 24 hours after the hurricane made landfall as a Category 4 storm. Witness Landon Swett told WEAR-TV he saw the man approach the vehicle from across the street.
“He yelled at me a little bit and said, ‘Oh, I’m looting.’ And he opened the door to the police officer’s SUV with the lights going. Got in it, shut the door,” said Swett, who added that he gathered his family and turned to go inside his house.
“As I’m crossing the doorway, I look back, I saw the officer at the passenger side, I don’t believe the door was open yet,” Sweet said. “Then I got about three more feet inside, and I heard the shot.”
A Florida Highway Patrol spokesman confirmed the shooting. The agency said that the Florida State Fire Marshals were the authority involved in the shooting. Consequently, the spokesman added that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was investigating the incident.
Looting Panama City Buildings
WEAR-TV reported it had seen evidence of looting at several Panama City buildings, including broken doors and glass. A video widely circulated online showed dozens of people going through a damaged Family Dollar store Thursday.
Military personnel in Humvees were guarding the store Friday, according to The New York Times.
More Than 12 Deaths
Hurricane Michael has been blamed for more than a dozen deaths in Florida and Georgia. Hundreds of thousands of homes remained without power Sunday.