JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – One of two firefighters stashed and stabbed by a patient Tuesday night as he was being taken to a hospital in the back of a rescue unit is recovering from serious injuries, Jacksonville Fire and Rescue interim Chief Keith Powers said Wednesday.
The incident took place after two firefighters/paramedics responded to a call about a man having back pain about 10 p.m. on Franklin Street. Powers said the patient, later identified as Tony Harris, was calm when they loaded him in the rescue unit headed to UF Health Jacksonville. As the rescue unit drove through Springfield, the patient got up off the stretcher, grabbed a box cutter from Capt. Latorrence Morris’ pocket, who was tending to him, and slashed him several times in the upper chest and abdomen,” Powers said.
The struggle continued until Jacksonville police arrived and took Harris into custody.
Powers said Morris suffered substantial blood loss and, as they would later learn, a collapsed lung. A UF Health security guard in a golf cart transported Morris to the emergency room rather than waiting for a second rescue unit to arrive. Powers said that may have saved Morris’ life.
“I can’t use the words I want to use right now,” Mayor Lenny Curry said. “They’re in a situation where they’re trying to save lives and take care of people and, frankly, one of them almost lost his life and the other one got stabbed.”
Powers says the attack came without warning — that the patient was initially calm in the rescue unit and not having any issues.
Norris has stabilized and is expected to be moved to a private room on Wednesday. Harper was treated and released.
Norris has been with JFRD since 2006 and Harper since 2009.
Both Powers and Curry said they would work with law enforcement and prosecutors to seek the maximum punishment for Harris, who has an extensive criminal history.