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Ocala Star-Banner (FL)
October 6, 1994
Author: David Greenberg ; NYT Regional Newspapers
GAINESVILLE — A Santa Fe Community College student, depressed over failed efforts to save a relationship with his ex-girlfriend, killed himself Wednesday morning after Gainesville Police crisis negotiators were unable to convince him to give up his gun.
Joseph Cox, 24, sat in his car in the parking lot of the Oak Forest Apartments in Gainesville and held off police negotiators by pointing a handgun at himself just before 5 a.m., said Gainesville Police Deputy Chief Daryl Johnston.
A little more than two hours later, he fired one shot from the Glock semi-automatic into his stomach. Nearby paramedics unsuccessfully tried to save Cox, who died about 15 minutes later at Shands Hospital.
The incident began hours earlier when Alexandria Elliot, another SFCC student, and Cox’s former girlfriend told police that Cox had pointed a gun at her. She told officers that a restraining order had been issued against Cox several days ago.
Officers started looking for Cox when they heard he was seen at the Polo’s apartments. “Two security officers at the complex saw him with a gun in his waistband,” said Alachua County Sheriffs Lt. Emery Gainey. “Then they heard a gunshot and saw him drive out of the area.”
A short time later, Cox’s friend, Eric Benson, a Polo’s resident, discovered that his gun — a Glock semi-automatic — was missing. He told deputies it disappeared during the time Cox was visiting.
Sheriff’s police dogs tracked Cox through Bivens Arm Nature Park back to Oak Forest, where he lived. At about 4:50 a.m., off-duty University of Florida Police Officer Mathew Abrams and Gainesville Police Officer Donald Geelhoed confronted Cox in the Oak Forest parking lot. Cox pointed the gun at the officers, who fired at him and missed.
Cox then went to his car, locked himself in and pointed the gun at himself.
Sylvia Gillen, an Oaks Forest resident, heard the shots. “The gunshots woke me up,” she said. “I went to the door and jumped out. The police who were there told me to get back inside. I watched from the window. I saw the cops talking to him. They were trying to talk to him about school to get him calmed down. I remember he was sitting on the passenger side.”
About a half hour later, Gillen and other residents of nearby buildings were evacuated to the Radisson Hotel. Johnston estimated that about 100 residents were evacuated, and no one was allowed into the complex.
Negotiators talked to Cox until 7 a.m., when he pointed the gun at his stomach and fired.
Cox was taking the anti-depressant drug Prozac , but investigators were not sure if he was using the drug recently.
“That’s something our investigators told the medical examiner to look for,” Johnston said. Cox was depressed about his breakup with Elliot, and that depression had gotten him in trouble with police before.
Elliot filed a complaint with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 25. Cox was charged with stalking, aggravated assault and tampering with a witness. Cox was accused of trying to run Elliot and a friend off the road.
“And he was following her around and threatening her,” Gainey said. “That’s where the stalking and tampering with a witness came from.” David Greenberg is a reporter at The Gainesville Sun.
Copyright (c) 1994, 2004 Ocala Star-Banner