A crime spree in Florida that included the kidnapping of teenage girls and the murder of an 80-year-old man at his lunch spot ended when police and the suspect got into a shootout, killing the accused.
“He was trying to kill as many people as he possibly could,” Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said at a July 12 press conference where he discussed the spree.
Multiple police agencies were looking for Johnny Kirk in connection to various crimes he is suspected of committing on July 10 and 11. Early July 12, Escambia County Sheriff’s deputies found Kirk and tried to stop him and others in a vehicle.
Deputies barely made it out of the police cruisers when Kirk opened fire on them. Simmons played body camera footage from the shooting as he discussed the day’s events.
Two deputies returned fire and Kirk was shot and killed.
“The deputies weren’t even out of their car seat,” Simmons said.
The unnamed deputies have been put on paid leave while state investigators review the shooting, Simmons said. They were not hurt in the incident.
Police in two parts of Florida’s panhandle were looking for Kirk. On July 10, in DeFuniak Springs, police say, Kirk kidnapped two 16-year-olds at gunpoint and forced them to drive to nearby Crestview in Okaloosa County.
The next day, Kirk shot an 80-year-old man at a boat ramp, according to Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden said. The victim's name was not released, but the sheriff said the victim loved to spend time and eat lunch at that park.
“This was a total random act of violence,” Aden said.
The murder sparked the manhunt across Florida for Kirk and police in Escambia County found him around 4:30 a.m. Simmons said there were two other people in the car when deputies tried to stop Kirk. Michael Larson was sitting in the back seat and fled during the shooting.
Police are searching for Larson, Simmons said. A woman who was driving was questioned and released, though the sheriff said she could face charges in connection to the spree.
One of the bullets Kirk fired at deputies hit a nearby house, Simmons said, but nobody was hurt. He praised the deputies for their actions and ending Kirk’s alleged rampage.
“This guy had to be stopped,” Simmons said. “God knows, what he would have done next.”
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