LAUDERDALE LAKES (CBS4) – A tow truck driver was shot dead Tuesday afternoon as he attempted to remove unauthorized cars from a Lauderdale Lakes apartment complex. BSO says the owner of a car about to be towed opened fire on the tow truck driver, shooting him several times.

Deputies reported to the St. Croix apartments at 4150 NW 34 Street just before 3 p.m. after receiving a report of shots fired.

When they arrived, they found the victim, David Herr, 36, with gunshot wounds and Triston Johnson with a gun still on the scene. BSO says the Johnson opened fire on deputies and at least one deputy fired back, injuring the shooter Johnson was transported to Broward Health Medical Center in critical condition.  His uncle said Johnson is mentally ill. “I just heard from this father today that he’s schizophrenic,” said Dwight Pringle. “I think that’s probably what set him off.”

BSO said Herr was an employee of All County Towing, which was hired by the apartment building management to remove vehicles that were not authorized to be on the property. Investigators say the tow truck had a dashboard camera and captured the whole incident. “It was just basically a couple of seconds between the initial confrontation between Johnson and Herr and those shots being fired,” BSO Spokeswoman Dani Moschella said. “There was very little time for any argument of for the victim to put up a fight.”

Herr’s friends and family arrived on scene and consoled each other. Herr was described as a man working to provide for his family killed while doing his job.

“Could have been any number of reasons why you’re gonna tow a car and you’re gonna kill somebody over that?” said friend and fellow tow truck driver, Kevin Godfrey.

Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said deputies barely made it on scene before they became targets.

“When our deputies exited their vehicle they immediately took on gunfire,” Israel told reporters.

David Herr’s ex-wife, Christie Owens rushed to the scene. She said she’s always worried about the dangers of the tow truck business.

“I begged him to quit,” she said.

As deputies recovered evidence, David Herr’s friends and family reflected on a man’s life cut short and what he meant to them.

“The best guy you’ll ever know,” said Godfrey. “It’s sad. It really is.”

The deputy who fired their weapon will be placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

Several tow truck drivers explained that the confrontation could have been avoided for $50. They said that is the amount the owner of the car would have had to pay to have the tow truck driver drop the car and move on under a county ordinance.

Johnson’s uncle said his nephew did show some strange behavior lately.

“Like one day, doing bible study,” Pringle explained,. “He was saying odd things about Moses, I’m like, ‘why would you say that.’ It was very, not normal.”

Johnson is in the hospital recovering from a gunshot wound.  He’s charged with one count of murder and one count of attempted murder of a law officer.

Ted Scouten

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