Fla. trooper fatally shoots man after he fired at cops, pursuit

The suspect crashed his car and began firing upon state troopers, authorities said


By Eliot Kleinberg and Julius Whigham II
The Palm Beach Post, Fla.

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — A Florida Highway Patrol trooper shot and killed a 33-year-old Broward County man Tuesday evening in Delray Beach during a confrontation that followed a short chase on Interstate 95, the agency reported Wednesday.

FHP identified the man late Wednesday as Steve Gilbert of Pompano Beach. FHP did not disclose the name of the trooper who shot him. The trooper is on nondisciplinary administrative leave while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigates the incident.

Authorities say Gilbert fired upon troopers after crashing his vehicle near Southwest 11th Street, just east of I-95 off Atlantic Avenue. He died when the trooper returned fire, the agency said. 

It was the second officer-involved shooting this year in Palm Beach County.

FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said Wednesday that her agency learned of the trooper-involved shooting shortly before 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Plessinger said FDLE has started conducting interviews and gathering evidence.

According to a statement FHP released Wednesday, the incident began when the trooper attempted to pull over a vehicle it described as reckless on southbound I-95 near Delray Beach. 

The vehicle failed to stop. It crashed into another vehicle and the driver climbed out of it, firing the first shots at the troopers, said FHP, which also said troopers tried to perform CPR on Gilbert after he was struck.

A rifle and handgun were recovered at the scene, and Gilbert's vehicle was determined to have been stolen, FHP said.


FHP had a strong presence along Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach on Tuesday from about 6 p.m. until after midnight. City police, who also patrolled Atlantic, urged drivers to stay away from the road between I-95 and 10th Avenue to its east. 

A vehicle from the Palm Beach County Medical Examiner's Office was on the scene. Authorities also towed away a damaged vehicle from a street next to the Community Food Store, on Atlantic between Northwest 12th and Northwest 11th avenues, where Delray Beach police had set up a command center.

Gilbert, who briefly had an address west of Boca Raton, had no felony arrests in Palm Beach County but had multiple arrests as an adult and a juvenile in Broward. On Tuesday, he was awaiting a resolution of a October 2018 hit-and-run case.

Records show Gilbert was in state prison from September 2007 to May 2008 on a conviction for trafficking in stolen property.

Tuesday's shooting was at least the third this year involving law-enforcement officers that either took place in Palm Beach County or that touched agencies based there.

On Feb. 5, Detective Jemel Headings of the Riviera Beach Police Department fatally shot a gunman who had taken the life of FHP Trooper Joseph Bullock at an Interstate 95 rest stop near Palm City in Martin County.

On Jan. 31, Secret Service agents and officers with the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office fired at an SUV that had breached two security checkpoints near Mar-A-Lago, President Donald Trump's mansion in Palm Beach.

The driver was uninjured and continued along Southern Boulevard to West Palm Beach.

©2020 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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