Polk County Sheriff

‘Don’t Try That In A Small Town’ Suspect Dies After Officer-Involved Shooting In Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla - An armed carjacking suspect, 32-year-old Joshua Lee Walker, died from his injuries at the hospital Monday.
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd

POLK COUNTY, Fla – An armed carjacking suspect, 32-year-old Joshua Lee Walker, died from his injuries at the hospital Monday.

The Officer Involved Deadly Incident Task Force for the 10th Judicial Circuit continues to investigate.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and Bartow Police Chief Andy Ray said the shooting happened just before 4 p.m. along U.S. 98, near the intersection of Ernest Smith Boulevard.

According to Judd, the incident started earlier in the day Monday with an armed carjacking led to multiple car crashes, additional attempted carjackings, and ended when the suspect was shot by Bartow police officer.

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Walker was shot at least two times in the torso, and Monday evening, Judd said his condition was “severely critical.”

The gun Walker had, which he used to commit several felonies, was a loaded 9 mm Springfield, with a live round in the chamber and 10 live rounds in the 13-round capacity magazine.

Judd said a an argument between the suspect and his mother earlier in the day in Highlands City started the incident.

Walker was trying to leave the area in his mother’s car to avoid outstanding warrants against him, but his mother refused to give him the car. 

Judd said walker took out a 9mm gun and threatened suicide by cop to his mother before fleeing the home. Officials said the mother didn’t call the sheriff’s office at the time.

Walker then went to a nearby liquor store and carjacked a vehicle with a woman who was sitting inside.

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According to authorities, the woman jumped out of the vehicle when Walker pointed the gun at her. The woman’s husband, who went inside the liquor store came out and told him to take the car and leave.

The couple was not injured in the incident.

According to Judd, the suspect initially fled in the stolen vehicle, heading southbound on US 98.

The suspect collided with two vehicles before changing direction into the northbound lanes and colliding with another vehicle that had two passengers inside.

After these collisions, the suspect attempted to carjack two more vehicles, but both drivers managed to drive away from the suspect and refused to stop.

Bartow Police Chief Ray said the agency received a call about a disturbance involving a man with a gun just before 4 p.m. Two police officers responded to the scene.

One of the officers immediately confronted the suspect, who started to flee. However, the suspect turned around and pointed a gun at the officer.

Both police officers fired shots at the suspect.

The officers provided medical aid to the suspect while they waited for first responders to arrive at the scene.

“He learned you don’t try that in a small town,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “You don’t try that in Polk County. You don’t try that in Bartow or you’re going to get shot.”

Walker was a convicted felon and not legally allowed to possess a firearm.

Walker had active Polk County warrants for: Harassing Communication, Grand Theft of a Firearm (2 Counts), Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, and Harassing a Witness/Victim. His criminal history includes eight felony convictions and two trips to FL state prison (from 2016 to 2018, and from 2018 to 2022).

The Polk sheriff and the Officer Involved Deadly Incident Task Force with the 10th Judicial Circuit will be handling the investigation into the officer-involved shooting. 

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