Importance of Accurate Address
Paramedic Remains Hospitalized After Shooting
Shot After Entering Wrong Apartment on EMS Call

Posted: Friday, November 12, 1999 - 6:00 PM
NICOLE LOZARE Firehouse.Com News

An Ocala, Fla. firefighter/paramedic remains hospitalized in serious condition after an elderly man shot him in the chest after mistaking him for an intruder late last month. On Oct. 28, Bobby Simpson, 26, and his partner, Phil Azeff, were sent to the 3400 block of SE Ft. King to assist an elderly woman who had fallen out of bed.

When the crew arrived, they found the door was not open and Simpson found a window and began to enter, police said. But he was entering the wrong apartment, that of Robert Lockhart. The 69-year-old Lockhart called police to report that an intruder was about to enter his home. Not realizing that Simpson was a paramedic, Lockhart fired on shot from his 9mm pistol, striking Simpson in the chest.

"This is a tragic accident that occurred from circumstances which our personnel have to deal with often. We serve a large, elderly population what we often have to gain access to, to render aid," said Fire Chief Jim Poston. Simpson, a five-year veteran, underwent 5 hours of surgery at Munroe Regional Medical Center. He was listed in serious but stable condition yesterday.He is improving and is off a ventilator, according to Chief Poston.

Late last week, officials said Simpson had taken a 'turn for the worse' and had to be placed on a ventilator after developing acute respiratory distress and a blood infection. However, his condition improved earlier this week and was upgraded. "Mr. Simpson is very good employee, certainly a vital part of our organization.

We look forward to welcoming him back as soon as possible," Poston said. No charges have been filed against the remorseful Mr. Lockhart. "The only evidence is that Mr. Simpson broke into Mr. Lockhart's home in what he perceived as a burglar coming into his home in the middle of the night," said State Attorney Brad King. "I didnŐt know what it was. I just started following the noises. It led straight to my bathroom," Lockhart told the Star-Banner. "I looked through the door and saw a man framed in the window like a picture. I turned around and immediately called 911."

On the 9-1-1 tape, Lockhart begins to whisper his address, then pauses. A voice in the background calls out, "Hello?" There is another pause, then Lockhart returns to the phone and says, "I shot him." Seconds later, a man screams in the background. The voice calls out several times, then can be heard saying, "I'm a firefighter. Sir, I'm a firefighter."