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Suspect bragged about wanting to shoot a cop

11:46 PM, Jan 13, 2007   |    comments
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Lake Placid, Florida - Affidavits released by  the the Florida Department of Law Enforcement give more details about the shooting that killed a Florida Highway Patrol Trooper during a traffic stop in Highlands County Friday afternoon.

Investigators say they have also recovered the gun used in the murder of 48-year-old  Sgt. Nicholas Sottile.

The shooting happened on Hwy. 27 between Lake Placid and Sebring.

Investigators have charged Joshua Lee Altersberger, 19, with first degree murder and are questioning Quintin Kinder, 21, who at this point, is only charged with Trespassing on Posted Horticulture Property.

The Probable Cause Affidavit gives this synopsis:

Kinder said  Altersberger swerved in his Toyota while driving on Hwy. 27 and caught the attention of Trooper Sottile.  Altersberger continued to drive north as the Trooper came up behind them.  Kinder says before Altersberger pulled over, he told Kinder he was going to shoot the Trooper.  Kinder says he thought Altersberger was serious and knew there was a gun in the driver's side door.  When Altersberger stopped his car, Kinder says he bailed and ran into a nearby orange grove.

The documents also contain the statement from another driver who witnessed the killing. 

A man was driving on Hwy 27 when the Toyota cut him off in traffic.  The driver says he saw Sgt. Sottile pull over that Toyota, so he  stopped behind the Trooper's vehicle, intending to get out and tell him about the Toyota driver's aggressive driving. 

Sgt. Sottile ordered the witness to get back into his vehicle.  The witness says he then saw a black male exit the passenger's side of the Toyota and run into the orange grove.  He says the Trooper approached the Toyota and ordered the driver to place his hands on the steering wheel.  Sgt. Sottile then leaned into the driver's window but the driver produced a handgun and fired one round into the Trooper's neck. 

The Trooper reached for his radio on his lapel to remove it, then collapsed.  The witness says 15 seconds later, the Toyota driver pointed the gun out the car window and fired a second shot.

The affidavit says the witness picked Altersberger out of a photo pack as the driver of the Toyota and the person who shot and killed Sgt. Sottile.

Sgt. Sottile had been with the Florida Highway Patrol for nearly 25 years.

He was married and has two children, his son is also an FHP Trooper.

Governor Charlie Crist issued this statement:

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Sgt. Nick Sottile and his fellow Troopers. Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line everyday for the safety and security of our state and I speak for all Floridians in offering our deepest gratitude for their sacrifices."

Tampa Bay's 10 News

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