A looter was shot in the hurricane-ravaged town of Panama City after attempting to steal a first responder’s vehicle.
The looter reportedly told a witness what he was doing when he attempted to get into an emergency vehicle, which ultimately cost him his life.
“He yelled at me a little bit,” Swett told NBC15. “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.”
Realizing this was no place to be, Swett took his family across the street- and was soon thankful that he did.
“As I’m crossing the doorway, I look back, saw the officer at the passenger side. I don’t believe the door was open yet. Then I got about three more feet inside, and I heard the shot,” he recounted.
The “officer” in Swett’s account was a Florida State Fire Marshal, a sworn law enforcement officer with powers to make arrests, conduct searches and seizures, serve summonses, and carry firearms. Renowned in their field, Florida State Fire Marshals make arrests in arson cases at a considerably higher rate than most states.
The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the Fire Marshal’s involvement.
Looting has been rampant in the area affected by Hurricane Michael, with many stores having been cleaned out entirely by opportunistic predators and those desperate for supplies.
“This hit so hard and so fast that the different aspects of human nature is going to come out, and people are going to do anything to survive,” said Christopher Donahue.
Police have since place Panama City Beach under a curfew, forbidding traffic in the time between dusk and dawn.