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Panhandle sheriff says man killed deputies after being Tased

PENSACOLA — Two deputies killed by a soldier they were trying to arrest for beating his wife exchanged multiple rounds with the man who began shooting while on the ground after he was shocked with a stun gun, authorities said Sunday, a day after the men were killed.

"When that Taser released after five seconds, he came up shooting," interim Okaloosa County Sheriff Edward Spooner said.

"He went from just being disagreeable to using deadly force in a matter of seconds. It was a very aggressive move with a concealed weapon on his part."

Joshua Cartwright, 28, was killed by deputies in a neighboring county after he fled a shooting range parking lot near Crestview where he killed deputies Burt Lopez and Warren "Skip" York.

Cartwright's truck flipped on its side after the tires were punctured by spikes at a roadblock.

"When he had his crash, the truck flipped upside down, nose first and he came out of the backside of the truck firing immediately and using the truck for cover," Spooner said.

Investigators say Cartwright and deputies exchanged about 60 rounds in 30 to 40 seconds before he was shot and killed.

Destiny Harder lived next door to the Cartwrights at their Fort Walton Beach apartment complex. Harder said she was often disturbed by their loud arguments and had banged on the wall between the two apartments Saturday morning after she was awakened by their fighting.

Neighbor Aaron Walp worked as a bartender at the same Fort Walton Beach bar where Joshua Cartwright was a bouncer two years ago. "He had a difficult time leaving his personal problems at home. If you gave him a chance he'd start talking," Walp said. And Walp said Cartwright's brooding ways made his fellow employees uncomfortable.

"He had a violent side," he said.

Cartwright carried a flashlight with a sharp attachment that he threatened to use on customers who got out of line, he said.

In November, when authorities arrested Cartwright for domestic battery, they listed his employer as the U.S. Army Reserves. But Spooner said Cartwright was a member of a Florida National Guard unit based in Crestview.

The November domestic charge was pending against Cartwright.

Deputies went to arrest him at the gun range Saturday afternoon after taking a second domestic abuse report from his wife, Elizabeth Marie Cartwright, 21, who was being treated for injuries at a local hospital.

Both deputies were wearing bulletproof vests but were shot in areas not protected by the vests, Spooner said.

The slain deputies, both 45, were retired from the U.S. Air Force. Lopez had five children and York had a 10-year-old son.

Spooner spent Sunday morning with the families of the slain deputies and planned to meet with his 370 employees Sunday evening to discuss the shootings.

"I think we need bring everyone together, explain what has happened and make sure their needs are being met," he said.

Panhandle sheriff says man killed deputies after being Tased 04/26/09 [Last modified: Sunday, April 26, 2009 10:59pm]

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