A tow truck driver on the job was shot and killed Tuesday afternoon by a man whose car he was hauling away from a Lauderdale Lakes apartment complex, the Broward Sheriffs Office said.
The shooter then turned the gun on arriving officers and was critically wounded by one deputy, according to BSO Sheriff Scott Israel, who rushed to the scene.
The incident played out just before 3 p.m. at the St. Croix Apartments at 4150 NW 34th St.
The tow truck driver, identified as David Herr, 36 and of Hollywood, worked for All County Towing, which describes itself as a reliable, friendly, affordable and professional tow service.
An employee in the main office picked up the phone and said no comment before hanging up.
Herr was among a number of tow truck operators who responded to a call from management at St. Croix Apartments to remove nine vehicles from the property.
He loved cars, horses, dogs and his two kids, said Kevin Godfrey, another tow truck operator who knew Herr for a dozen years.
Herr was just doing the job when he died, he said.
He was just an average person making a living and he got killed over $50, Godfrey said, explaining that tow truck operators will not tow a car if the owner can pay that amount at the scene.
Herr had apparently hooked up a car onto his truck and was driving away when there was a confrontation with the vehicles owner. Then gunfire, and the tow truck driver was hit. He died in the parking lot.
Israel said when deputies arrived, the suspect opened fire on them, and the deputies returned fire, hitting the suspect. The suspect was taken to the Broward Health Medical Center in critical condition. He is described as being in his 30s.
The deputy who fired his weapon has been put on administrative leave, BSO said.
No deputies or other tow truck operators were injured.
It was unclear whether the suspect lived in the apartment complex or was visiting, Israel said.
Residents of the apartment complex stood outside their building as deputies conducted their investigation. The St. Croix was roped off with police tape.
Tuesdays shooting was the most recent in a series of dozens of shootings from Alabama to Chicago to New Jersey in which people have shot, sometimes killing, tow truck operators in the midst of removing a vehicle.
Being a tow truck operator is a very dangerous job, Godfrey said, and many operators carry guns to defend themselves. Herr, Godfrey said, did not.
A woman who identified herself as Christie Owens, the victims ex-wife, stood outside the crime tape trying to get in to learn more. When asked if being a tow truck operator was a dangerous profession, she replied: Very. I begged him to quit.
Miami Herald news partners WFOR-CBS4 contributed to this report.