Man wanted for murder shot 10 rounds at ECSO deputies before being shot
A man wanted for allegedly kidnapping two 16-year-old girls in Walton County and murdering an 80-year-old man in Okaloosa County was shot by Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputies early Monday morning.
Johnny Ray Kirk, 22, of Santa Rosa Beach, was shot and killed after firing 10 times at Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Speaking at a Monday afternoon press conference, Escambia County Sheriff’s Chip Simmons said that Kirk had left ECSO deputies little choice but to shoot him.
Kirk “was firing as fast as he possibly could, trying to kill as many people as he could," Simmons said.
“I think what you have here is an individual who did not care about life. He did not care what his victims were like. He did not care that they were 16-year-olds. He brought a gun with him to coerce them into taking him to Crestview, but he wasn’t finished,” Simmons said. “He decided to commit the senseless act of murdering an 80-year-old man and stealing his truck as his next venture.
“Then he decided to come to Escambia County, I guess seeking refuge,” Simmons continued. “He didn’t get it.”
ECSO deputies stopped a vehicle driven by a woman at 2:45 a.m. Monday in which Kirk and another man, Michael Allen Lawson, were riding as passengers.
After deputies stopped the car at Inez and Carrick streets, Kirk jumped out of the passenger seat and immediately fired 10 shots toward two ECSO deputies who had arrived on scene in two cruisers, Simmons said.
Simmons projected a video taken from one of the deputies’ body cameras at the Monday press conference.
“As soon as the car stops, before the deputy even gets the door open, the bad guy, the killer, Johnny Ray Kirk, comes out and just starts firing — firing at least 10 rounds,” Simmons said while pointing at the projected footage.
One of Kirk’s fired rounds hit an ECSO cruiser, and another bullet struck a nearby residential home.
“You can tell, again, that the deputy was barely able to get out of the car seat and engage him,” Simmons added.
Kirk was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. No deputies were injured during the shooting.
A woman who had been driving the vehicle in which Kirk had been traveling as a passenger was taken into custody but had not been formally charged as of 1 p.m. Monday. However, she remained in custody as authorities continued their investigation.
ECSO deputies were continuing to search on Monday afternoon for Lawson, the second man in the vehicle.
“Near where the car was stopped, there is a large wooded swampy area, and we believe that he fled into that area,” Simmons explained. “For the last several hours, we’ve been out there trying to track him, trying to find him.”
Anyone who has seen Lawson or has information about his whereabouts has been asked to call the ECSO at 850-436-9620 or Crime Stoppers at 850-433-7867.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement responded to the scene and has launched an investigation into the incident per standard procedure.
Kirk’s death brought to a close more than two days of crimes throughout Northwest Florida. Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden, who joined Simmons and State Attorney Ginger Bowden Madden at the Monday press conference, explained the events that led to the officer-involved shooting.
Kirk’s alleged crime spree began early in the morning of July 10 when he reportedly kidnapped two 16-year-old girls.
The girls told DeFuniak Springs police officers that they had been sitting inside their vehicle at a Lake DeFuniak boat ramp when Kirk approached them, tapped on their vehicle’s window with a gun and demanded their money.
When he learned that the girls didn’t have any money, Kirk told the girls to "get naked,” according to DeFuniak Springs Police Department officials.
“Both females stated they told Kirk they were only 16 and Kirk recanted his request and made them take him to a motel in Crestview,” the release continued.
The girls dropped off Kirk at the motel and contacted police about 4:21 a.m. that morning to report their experience. They were later able to identify him through Facebook.
DeFuniak Springs police officers were attempting to locate Kirk for the kidnapping when the OCSO reported that an 80-year-old man had been murdered at the Shoal River Wayside Park just south of Crestview.
OCSO Sheriff Eric Aden said that his agency first received a call about 1:30 p.m. July 10 about a dead body found in Duggan Park near Crestview with his keys missing.
Witnesses told investigators that they had seen Kirk leaving the Duggan Park area driving the deceased man’s vehicle, Aden said.
“He fled the area at a high rate of speed, and later on that afternoon the vehicle was found in an area of Mossy Head in Walton County,” Aden said.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office put out an alert Sunday that they were searching for Kirk on warrants for homicide, carjacking, grand theft of a motor vehicle, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon and aggravated elderly abuse.
It was later discovered that Kirk left ammunition at the scene of the kidnapping that matched “ammunition that was found at the scene of our homicide,” Aden said. “It was that, along with the bulletins that we were sending out to multiple agencies, that they were able to connect the dots.”
Kirk had a lengthy criminal record before the weekend crime spree.
The Florida Department of Corrections website showed that Kirk had served two stints in prison between March of 2017 and June of 2020. He served from June 16 to Sept. 5 of 2017 on a burglary charge and from March 26, 2018 until June 20, 2020 on a possession of methamphetamine charge.
The three-month sentence appears to have been the actual time Kirk spent in prison after being ordered incarcerated for two years as a youthful offender. He was 17, according to reports filed by the Walton County Sheriff's Office.
His arrest in that case followed the brutal beating and robbery of a North Walton County man. A charge of aggravated battery causing permanent disfigurement, for which records state Kirk could have served 15 years, was dropped as part of the plea agreement.
On Aug. 16, 2016, deputies responded to a home in Ponce de Leon area where they found a man bleeding and his eyes swollen shut from blows to the face, the Sheriff's Office report said.
The unidentified victim told officers that Kirk, Kirk's stepfather and another person had entered the home where he resided and found him hiding in the closet. The victim recalled the three assailants "kicking and stomping him."
The Sheriff's Office report said Kirk had been involved the day before in a domestic violence dispute involving his sister.
He was arrested on the burglary and battery charges Aug. 31, 2016 at a location on Jackson Street in Freeport.
Colin Warren-Hicks can be reached at email@example.com or 850-435-8680.