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"For some reason, the suspect shot the victim in the back and then he fled the scene," said Cpl. David Almond, of the Orlando Police Department.
Investigators said Howell knew 47-year-old Deputy Charlie Murphy because Murphy was friends with the mother of Howell's children.
They said the incident began with an altercation between the two men over the female friend. Howell then shot the deputy in the back and fled the scene, officers said, but the injured deputy still managed to flag down a driver passing by.
"He said he was an off-duty officer and he'd been shot that he needed paramedics," the woman who called 911 told WFTV.
WFTV was there as the deputy's bullet-riddled Ford Explorer was towed away.
Sheriff Jerry Demings told WFTV Murphy is in stable condition.
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