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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Officials: Gunman killed after firing at Sabal Trail, fleeing law enforcement

Generic Crime
Generic Crime

A man wielding a high-powered rifle was shot and killed in Citrus County, Florida, on Sunday after firing at the Sabal Trail Transmission pipeline and leading local law enforcement on a car chase, authorities said.

At about 9 a.m., deputies with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to a call about a man shooting at a portion of the controversial 515-mile interstate gas pipeline, along with construction equipment, in Dunnellon, Florida, according to a press release issued by the sheriff’s office.

Deputies responded to the scene in the 12500 block of Highway 200, but the suspect, whose name has not been released, had fled into Citrus County via Highway 200, according to a release issued by the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office.

Members of both sheriff’s offices and the Florida Highway Patrol located the suspect’s vehicle and gave chase until he crashed the vehicle in Floral City, Florida. The man then brandished his weapon at deputies, who opened fire and killed him, according to the release.

The incident happened about 1 1/2 hours south of Gainesville.

No law enforcement personnel or civilians were injured by the gunfire, according to the release. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will investigate the incident.

The construction of the Sabal Trail pipeline, slated to begin operations in May, has prompted dozens of protests across North Central Florida, including an incident Wednesday in which two protesters climbed inside a portion of the pipeline in Marion County and were subsequently arrested. The chief concern among many critics of the pipeline is the potential environmental damage it may bring.

The pipeline will cut through Alabama, Georgia and 12 counties in North Central Florida — including Alachua, Marion and Citrus, according to the Sabal Trail Transmission website. When complete, it will be capable of transporting at least 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. The pipeline is headed by Spectra Energy Partners, NextEra Energy Inc. and Duke Energy.

Organizers and members of the anti-pipeline movement were quick to condemn the suspected gunman’s actions, stressing the movement’s track record of peaceful protests.

Jennifer Kramel, a 46-year-old Gainesville-based organizer, said she doesn’t believe the gunman was a protester; he may have been a disgruntled pipeline worker or a resident whose land had been seized to clear land for the pipeline.

“I don’t think that anyone in the movement in any way, shape or form will condone this type of violence,” said Kramel, who has organized two anti-pipeline protests in Gainesville.

@martindvassolo

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