A reported member of the Florida National Guard who allegedly killed two Okaloosa County, Fla., sheriff’s deputies in a shootout at a gun club last Saturday believed the U.S. government was conspiring against him and was “severely disturbed that Barack Obama had been elected president,” his wife told investigators.
The dead lawmen, Warren “Skip” York and Burt Lopez, both 45-year-old fathers, were gunned down by Joshua Cartwright (photo at right, from earlier arrest), 28, after they attempted to arrest Cartwright on domestic violence charges at the Shoal River Gun Club, officials said.
Cartwright fled the scene in his pickup. A short time later, he was himself shot to death during what witnesses described as “an intense firefight” that occurred after pursuing deputies rammed and overturned his truck during a high-speed chase. Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson later said 50 or 60 rounds were fired in the ensuing gun battle.
Okaloosa County Sheriff Edward Spooner said that Cartwright was interested in militia groups and training, and that investigators were looking into any weapons training he may have had.
Records show Cartwright was arrested in November 2008 on a previous domestic battery charge.
The murders of Deputies York and Lopez occurred less than a month after three Pittsburgh police officers were shot to death by right-wing extremist Richard Poplawski, who had posted numerous racist and conspiracy-theory messages to white supremacist websites.
In the 14 years since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, at least 25 law enforcement officers have been killed in the line of duty by white supremacists and anti-government extremists.
“We did lose two very fine men today,” interim Sheriff Ed Spooner told the Northwest Florida Daily News. “I don’t think anybody anticipated this would get to the level it did as quickly as it did.”