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

NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. — A massive manhunt is underway to track down the man accused of killing Nassau County deputy during a traffic stop Friday.

The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office says Patrick Rene McDowell shot 29-year-old Joshua Moyers in the face and back before driving away.

The deputy was taken to UF Health Jacksonville with life-threatening injuries, but later died of his injuries on Sunday.

Shortly after the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office joined in the search, investigators say McDowell shot a JSO K9 with a rifle. The K9, named Chaos, was taken to an animal hospital is expected to survive.

Action News Jax continues to learn new information about the suspect at the center of the shooting.

McDowell served in United States Marine Corps from 2005 to 2009 and as a reservist from 2009 to 2013. Officials say he has previously been Baker Acted and has suffered from depression, seizures, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Employees of Five Star Veterans Center, which works to provide safe housing, health and wellness services, and job preparedness, described McDowell as “aloof” and “detached.”

Investigators say McDowell is a trained marksman, having previously competed in a shooting competition.

McDowell has been arrested three times in Duval County. According to court records, the 35-year-old was arrested in 2018 for driving with a suspended license. In 2019 he was charged with uttering forged checks that he stole from a grandparent and sent to a Veterans Treatment Court where he was sentenced to 179 days.

Other prior arrests include giving a false name to police, aggravated possession of stolen firearms, and cocaine possession, according to NCSO. In 2005 McDowell was arrested in Saline County for burglary, aggravated possession of stolen firearms, and property damage.

On Monday, McDowell’s father Richard shared the following statement with Action News Jax, offering his condolences to Deputy Moyers’ family:

“I would like to express my deepest regrets to the family and friends of Deputy Moyers. I know that’s small consolation given what a good and decent man he was. If I could change what happened, or trade places with him I would.

“”I want to explain a few things about Patrick but please don’t think I’m making excuses for him or trying to rationalize his actions. After Patrick returned from Iraq he enrolled and sought help from the VA for depression, headaches, and nightmares. He was diagnosed with PTSD and depression and some physical infirmities. At first, he was motivated to deal with his demons and started a family. As time progressed, he slipped into a darker place. He had trouble with seizures, pain management, and sleep patterns. He turned to drugs and quit going to his VA appointments. He started stealing to support his habit and was arrested. He was accepted into Veterans Treatment Court and was doing very well. Judge Floyd and David were very engaged with him as were the Lovings at 5 Star.

“When the Covid lockdowns began, the court had to go to virtual sessions which meant less supervision for the mentees. Apparently, this happened at a critical time in his treatment, and he immediately slipped back into his old habits and was arrested in Ga. He was in the Ga jail for a year (and still hasn’t had a trial because of Covid). After a year he came back to Jacksonville and was again generously accepted by the Lovings at 5 Star. You could see the spark had gone out of him and despite our many efforts he slipped over the edge and did this horrible thing.

“I had resigned myself to the fact that he might overdose or take his own life. I never dreamed he would take someone else’s life. There are no excuses for what he did, and he will get what he deserves, one way or another. I’m not going to be a hypocrite and plead for his life; he was well aware of the consequences. If someone had done that to him, I would be enraged, so I understand the hate and vitriol directed at him. Just know that he wasn’t always like this. He is my son and I love him. My heart breaks for Deputy Moyers’ family. I hope, at some point, they can find some peace.”

McDowell should be considered armed and dangerous. The NCSO shared pictures of McDowell’s tattoos which can be seen below. Residents are being asked to check their surveillance video, including outdoor hunting cameras. If you see him, contact the sheriff’s office at (904) 548-4000.

Samantha Mathers

Samantha Mathers, Action News Jax

Samantha Mathers is a digital reporter and content creator for Action News Jax.