A Florida man was shot and killed Feb. 26 in Floral Park, Fla. by officers from the Florida Highway Patrol and Citrus County Sheriff’s Office after he was reported to have fired several rounds from a high-powered rifle into the unfinished Sabal Trail natural gas pipeline near Dunnellon, about 25 miles to the north.
The $3.2-billion pipeline, which will deliver natural gas from central Alabama to Orlando when completed in June, has been the site of multiple protests by environmentalists who say it threatens the pristine Florida aquifer.
The shooter was identified as James Leroy Marker, 66, of Chokoloskee. According to a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman, police still have no motive for the shooting which targeted four pipes valued at $9,800 each. Several protest groups said he was not affiliated with them.
According to the Highway Patrol, Marker was stopped after a cross-county chase. After exiting his vehicle, he "engaged" with both sheriff deputies and a trooper and then was shot and killed. FHP Public Affairs Officer Sgt. Steve Gaskins clarified on March 1 that Marker was armed when he exited his vehicle, but did not fire upon the officers. The incident is under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Gaskins said.
Witnesses reported hearing a volley of more than 24 shots, says the Ocala Star-Banner.
On Feb. 22, two women in Dunnellon were arrested for crawling into the pipeline and refusing to leave.
Officials say damaged pipes have been replaced and there is no impact on project schedule.
This story was updated March 1, 2017 to reflect new information from the Florida Highway Patrol.