Orlando police officers shot and killed a man carrying a gun on Interstate 4 after discovering him while making an unrelated traffic stop in what was initially believed to have been a nearby armed robbery.
The fatal shooting occurred around 3 a.m. Monday on I-4 near Colonial Drive, forcing the closure of westbound lanes of the interstate for about four hours and causing a major traffic jam.
According to Orlando police, the incident began with an apparent armed robbery on Amelia Street near Orange Blossom Trail. A witness spotted the suspected getaway vehicle on I-4 and officers conducted a traffic stop a short time later, police said.
A short distance away, however, a gunman, later identified as a 24-year-old Joseph Paige, who was not involved in the incident altogether, was spotted in the middle of the highway, according to police. Officers started talking to Paige, but police said they were forced to fire at him, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
"We only respond to the force that's necessary. We respond to suspects' actions, so this is a response to his actions," an Orlando police spokesman said.
It's not known how Paige, who is from New York, specifically threatened the officers.
Later Monday morning, Orlando police said an investigation determined that the robbery victim's story had inconsistencies and the victim declined to press charges. The driver of the vehicle stopped on I-4 was released from police custody and does not face any charges.
"It appears merely coincidental that this incident occurred in the same general area and same time of the felony traffic stop," Orlando police said in a statement. "It is unknown why this subject was not in a vehicle, and was armed while in the traffic lanes of I-4."
Four officers were involved in the incident and have been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure in police shootings. They were identified as Aaron Goss, who was hired in 2008; Michele Edwards, hired in 2013; Black Broadhurst, hired in 2008; and Greg D'Amato, hired in 2002.
An investigation into the shooting will be conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
I-4 westbound was closed at Colonial Drive on Monday morning, backing up traffic for miles.
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