By Janon Fisher PoliceOne Correspondent (PENSACOLA, Fla.) -- A man who shot himself after he was confronted by an off-duty Florida Highway patrolman in a Wal-Mart parking lot was being sought by Alabama authorities on charges that he had sexually assaulted and then tied up an 8-year-old female relative by marriage.
About 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Edward Ray McDowell, 39, was confronted in the parking lot of the department store by an unidentified officer after he allegedly tried to steal two cars. McDowell apparently threatened the officer and then shot himself in the head with a .410 gauge shotgun. McDowell died at the scene.
According to Florida Department of Law Enforcement public information officer Lisa Lagergren, the officer fired one round that did not hit McDowell. She said that she could not comment on the details surrounding the case because of an ongoing investigation.
At about the same time as the shooting, forty miles north, Sheriff Timothy Hawsey of Escambia County, Ala. got a 911 call from a woman stating that her daughter had been sexually assaulted. The mother of the eight-year old girl told police that when she came home from work she found her daughter in the living room with her hands and feet bound and with tape across her mouth. A later medical examination determined that she had been sexually assaulted.
The girl identified McDowell, who is a relative by marriage, as the perpetrator.
The mother had left the girl his care when she went to work.
"I will say this young lady was a very strong individual to have gone through everything she had to endure. She is to be commended for handling everything as well as she did," Hawsey said in a prepared statement provided to PoliceOne.com.
"I am thankful to report that while the young girl did go through a very terrible ordeal, physically she was not seriously injured. Emotionally...that is a different story."