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Published:April 26th, 2009 09:41 EST
2 North Florida Sheriff's Deputies Shot To Death

2 North Florida Sheriff's Deputies Shot To Death

By Christopher HIllenbrand

Two sheriff`s deputies from Crestview, Florida, were mortally wounded at a firing range by a gunman who was later shot by deputies, and died on the scene after evading police over the county line.

Around 1 p.m. on Saturday, two Okaloosa County deputies responded to a distress call at the Shoal River Sporting Clays and Shooting Center when the shooting occurred, according to Michele Nicholson, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff`s Department.

The officers who arrived at the range, sheriff`s deputies Burt Lopez and Warren "Skip" York, were airlifted to the Sacred Heart Hospital 45 miles away in Pensacola before being pronounced dead. 28-year-old Joshua Cartwright of Fort Walton Beach, Fla., was identified as the deputies` killer by county authorities.

After confronting the deputies at the scene, Cartwright shot them before fleeing toward Walton County, where county sheriff`s deputies shot and killed him.

Officers approached Cartwright at the DeFuniak Springs intersection where they fired upon the suspect.

Mark Illich, eyewitness at the intersection at the time of the deadly altercation, told "The Northwest Florida Daily News": "It must have been like 30 or 40 shots." He also said he watched as one officer set down a chain of spikes at the intersection and acknowledged "something`s about to happen."

Soon afterwards, Illich recalled: "(Cartwright`s) truck, he started coming. And we saw him, and he seemed calm as a cucumber."

Then Cartwright swerved around the spike emplacement when an officer fired into the rear window of the truck, according to the eyewitness.

Law enforcement officials reported that the officers originally received a domestic violence call coming from Cartwright`s apartment and learned that the suspect was going to the shooting range. Investigators with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the sheriff`s department declined to offer any more information about the initial call.

One man who answered the telephone at the Shoal River Sporting Clays and Shooting Center didn`t comment on the shooting.

This comes after another Okaloosa County sheriff`s deputy was fatally shot back in July after a standoff with a man who barred himself inside his home, and legal charges have plagued the Okaloosa County Sheriff`s Department.

In February, county sheriff Charles Morris was suspended by Florida governor Charlie Crist after he was apprehended by FBI agents while he was vacationing in Las Vegas.

This past Thursday, the sheriff and his former office manager were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of theft, money laundering, and conspiracy. Federal prosecutors accused Morris and his former office manager Teresa Adams of devising false incentives for sheriff`s department personnel and then siphoned some of the misappropriated funds.

On Wednesday, April 8th, 44-year-old Marie Moore was with her son 20-year-old Mitchell Moore, taking target practice at the Shoot Straight shooting range in Casselberry, Fla., when she shot Mitchell point-blank range in the back of the head before turning the gun on herself.

Though the authorities haven`t speculated on a reasonable motive behind the woman`s actions, she was involuntarily committed to a "mental home" and left a suicide note for the officials to find citing that "I`m sorry to do this in your place of business, but I had to save my son. God made me a queen and I failed. I`m a fallen angel. He turned me into the anti-Christ."

Later in her message, she said: "Hopefully when I die, there will be 1,000 years of peace."