EUSTIS, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - Authorities in Lake County, Florida said an officer with the Eustis Police Department has been shot.
The officer was involved in some sort of altercation with a suspect at an AutoZone, at 1415 S Bay Street, in Eustis. Store employees notified police that an armed man was inside the store, but workers were able to get to safety through a rear exit.
Eustis Police Department spokesman Jim Franquiz said one of their officers confronted the suspect in the parking lot and shots were exchanged. Officer Kenneth Toler was struck in the leg by a ricocheting bullet, but he is stable condition. The suspect, identified as Dillan Ezell, is believed to be his early 20s. He was also injured, but his condition was not immediately known.
“He did have a weapon in his hand. I don’t know what was said or who shot the first shot or what exchange took place, but I do know that he was shot at the front of the store,” said Franquiz.
Dillan’s uncle, Jeffrey Ezell, said his nephew had been battling depression on and off and his family was trying to help him.
“They were getting him setup with counseling, cause he would mope around when he wasn’t being on the up side, cause he had a good side to him, he really did. Very upbeat, very talkative, very smart young man,” Ezell said.
The shooting comes just two days after an Orlando police officer was critically wounded while trying to save four children who were involved in a deadly standoff. Orlando Police Officer Kevin Valencia remains hospitalized in a coma.
"This is a time when we officers all come together, when one of us is injured," Franquiz said during a news conference.
Officer Toler has more than 10 years of service on the force. Franquiz said Toler was responsive before he went into surgery.
“He’s in good spirits. He was awake, alert, talking, and answering questions,” he said. “We’re all praying for his speedy recovery.”
The Lake County Sheriff's Office is assisting the Eustis Police Department in its investigation. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is also on scene.