Statewide alert issued for man accused of shooting Florida deputy

Reward increases to $50K as search enters 3rd day

SWAT team members were going door to door on Saturday as the search continued for Patrick McDowell, who is accused of shooting a Nassau County deputy during a traffic stop on Friday morning. (WJXT)

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – A Florida Blue Alert was issued Sunday for the man accused of shooting a Florida deputy during a traffic stop early Friday as the search for him continues.

Officials said 35-year-old Patrick McDowell was last seen in Callahan outside Jacksonville.

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The all-out search for McDowell, the man suspected of shooting a Nassau County deputy twice during a traffic stop early Friday, continued on Sunday as the reward for his capture continued to climb, News 6 partner WJXT-TV reports.

According to the sheriff’s office, the reward for information that leads to the arrest of McDowell was increased more than $25,000 on Sunday to $50,500 thanks to “generous donors.”

An emotional Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper said Saturday that Deputy Joshua Moyers was “not going to survive” his injuries. Leeper said McDowell is believed to still be in the area after two items of interest were found: A flashlight and a hat.

“We found a flashlight and we believe we found his hat, so we think he’s in the area somewhere,” Leeper said.

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According to the Sheriff’s Office, the reward for information that leads to the arrest of McDowell was increased more than $25,000 on Sunday to $50,500 thanks to “generous donors.”

The Sheriff’s Office on Sunday released new photos of McDowell’s tattoos, which include the reversed motto of the United States Marine Corps and a back tattoo that reads “DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR.”

The sheriff said Saturday the search, which involves more than 300 personnel, is covering about 5-square miles of an area that includes a mixture of homes, hunting camps and large wooded areas.

“We’re going to find him eventually,” Leeper said. “We’re doing the best we can, making progress, moving slowly through that area.”

McDowell is accused of shooting Moyers twice -- once in the face and once in the back -- during a traffic stop early Friday near U.S. 301. Leeper had a warning for Nassau County residents on Saturday.

“This guy is dangerous,” Leeper said of McDowell. “What he did to that deputy was uncalled for and unnecessary and he needs to pay for it.”

He also warned residents not to do anything to help McDowell escape capture.

“If we find out you’ve helped this guy, we’re going to arrest you for preventing us to capture him,” Leeper said.

Call 1-866-845-8477 or dial **TIPS (star star 8477) on your cellphone if you have any information about McDowell’s whereabouts. You will remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The Florida Sheriff’s Association and Florida Deputy Association are also offering separate $5,000 rewards to the person who can help investigators locate McDowell. An online fundraiser set up to raise money for Moyers’ fiancée Ivy has already raised more than $7,000.

The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office Bravo Team shared a heartfelt message about Moyers on Saturday night as it began its first shift without him.

“Tonight we put on a brave face and hide the tears; as there is work to be done…As this night won’t be easy, we hope to soon bring this nightmare to an end. Rest easy knowing Bravo Team is carrying you with us. We love & miss you Moyers,” the team wrote.

SWAT team members went door to door in Nassau County on Saturday as they continued to search for McDowell. According to the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office, the SWAT team was checking to make sure residents are safe and to verify they have not seen McDowell.

“We just wanted to knock on every door, just to make sure the people who live there are safe. See if they’ve seen anything. Just look around the area to see if we see anything of interest, and just to make sure they’re safe,” Leeper said.

Leeper said Moyers pulled over a burgundy-colored minivan early Friday morning on US 301, and McDowell, who was driving, turned onto Sandy Ford Road before pulling over just in front of some train tracks. A woman was in the passenger seat of the van, Leeper said, when Moyers learned McDowell -- who gave him a false name -- didn’t have a driver’s license and that the tag on the van belonged to a different vehicle.

Leeper said investigators later learned the vehicle had been stolen from Jacksonville.

Leeper said the encounter, which was captured on dashcam video, turned violent when Moyers went to open the driver’s door and get McDowell out of the van -- just as a train began to pass on the tracks. He said the lights and flashers of the train crossing began going off, and that’s when McDowell’s arm came out of the vehicle holding a handgun and he shot the deputy in the face.

If you see McDowell, you are asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately at 904-548-4000.

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