Officer Joseph Bruce Burtner

Officer Joseph Bruce Burtner

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Florida

End of Watch Tuesday, December 12, 1995

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Joseph Bruce Burtner

Officer Joseph Burtner was shot and killed after he had responded to a suicide call. He was ambushed by the man with an AK-47 after entering the house to check on his well-being. The suspect had left a suicide message as the greeting on his own answering machine and the police were notified after it was heard.

Officer Burtner entered the house after 30 minutes of knocking on the door and other means of attention-getting. He attempted a forced entry with the approval of his sergeant and lieutenant, who were both at the scene.

The suspect claimed self-defense and stated that he thought his house was being burglarized. The suspect was convicted of manslaughter, four counts of attempted murder, one count of armed robbery and sentenced to six consecutive life terms in prison.

Officer Burtner had served with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for six months. He is survived by his wife.


  • Age 23
  • Tour 6 months
  • Badge 5552

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Rifle; AK-47
  • Offender Sentenced to life

ambush, suicide attempt

Most Recent Reflection

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Officer Burtner,

I remember that day as if it were yesterday. You were riding with some of my coworkers, but I was on a special assignment with DEA on wiretaps. Since I was on Watch 2, I had the radio on in my patrol unit enroute to 501. I heard everything as it started going down and I was just so overwhelmed by what I was listening to that I called a SWAT supervisor that was off duty and asked him if he knew about this. He hadn't but I know he jumped into his car and raced there in minutes time to help out however he was able.

I wish I had met you before that day. I'm sure you heard all of the praise and remembrances spoken of you at the funeral. The tall strong, well known trainer from the Academy with the tears in his eyes and voice as he spoke of you; it was all I could do to maintain composure as is required of an Honor Guard member.

You will always be remembered for saving the lives of many others on scene and are still spoken of to this day. You had your whole career before you and I'm sure would have been an excellent representative of JSO's finest... we will never forget


January 8, 2019

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