Nassau County

Father guards his house fully armed as authorities search for gunman who shot Nassau deputy

The manhunt for a suspect who shot a Nassau County Sheriff’s Office deputy during a traffic stop early Friday morning caused road closures, preventing some school buses from picking up students.

Callahan schools went on lockdown, even giving parents the option to keep their child home and the absence would be excused.

Action News Jax’s Meghan Moriarty was on the scene for nearly eight hours and spoke with parents and neighbors waking up to this awful news.

Several schools in Callahan are just three miles from where the traffic stop unfolded on U.S. 301 near Sandy Ford Road.

RELATED: What we know about suspect behind shooting of Nassau deputy, JSO K9

It was a daunting sight for parents seeing the SWAT team alongside buses this morning, which is why some parents kept their kids home.

As many parents were taking their kids to school, they woke up to the sight of police SWAT teams, firefighters and other agencies searching for Patrick McDowell, the man suspected of shooting Nassau Deputy Joshua Moyers multiple times.

“Probably take my kid back home,” said George, a dad we talked to.

“I thought something bad happened and it did,” said Trey Hutchinson, who heard gunshots.

“We decided to keep our children home just because of all the activity and the unknown factors,” said Samuel Baldwin, who has lived in Nassau County for the last 30 years.

RELATED: Nassau County Deputy Joshua Moyers: What we know about the Florida deputy shot during a traffic stop

Baldwin, a father of three, not only kept his kids home from school, but as a Marine veteran, decided to keep a lookout for the gunman himself -- fully armed and keeping his head on a swivel

“This is my home. With a suspect on the loose like that 3 miles away on foot, you know, that’s easily a 30 minute run and you know, you protect your home,” Baldwin said.

The news and sight of so many agencies responding -- NCSO, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol, the FBI and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, is shaking up the usually quiet area and keeping many on guard and praying for the first responder community.

“When it does hit close to home, you do have three children, first of all do you want to get them safe and secure and it tugs on your heartstrings,” Baldwin said.

McDowell is a Marine veteran, as is Baldwin.

Baldwin said this changes everything, as Marines have advanced training in survival and evasion, meaning he could live off the land for quite some time.

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