SARASOTA, Fla. -- A manhunt is underway for the gunman suspected of shooting at an ambulance while paramedics were inside.

It happened just before 4 a.m. Monday on Goodrich Avenue near 29th Street.

The Sarasota County Fire Department was initially dispatched to call for a person who had fallen.

"Help. I need help...please send help. I fell really hard," the caller said.

But, when first responders arrived, the woman renting the home told them she never called 911.

The paramedics walked back to their ambulance and got inside. At that point, a man, who was across the street, fired three to five gunshots at the emergency vehicle, striking the driver's door at least twice.

"I heard the gunshots. I heard five gunshots," neighbor Bernestine Mappes said. "The boys ran in the room and thought they heard someone run through my yard."

Both paramedics got away safely, and nobody was hurt.

Sarasota police said three to five gunshots were fired at an ambulance around 4 a.m. Monday on Goodrich Avenue near 29th Street.
Sarasota police said three to five gunshots were fired at an ambulance around 4 a.m. Monday on Goodrich Avenue near 29th Street.
Sarasota Police Department

"This does appear to be specifically pointed to the individuals or the ambulance itself," Deputy Sarasota Police Chief Pat Robinson said during a news conference Monday morning.

Deputies say the only description they have is that the shooter appeared to be a man wearing a hoodie, and he ran from the scene.

Once shots rang out, the ambulance sped off to get to a secure position.

Neighbors were concerned for the well-being of the paramedics.

“That’s someone who is coming to help us, and for them to be shot at is crazy," neighbor Tearria Thomas said. "They’re going to be afraid to come in this area now.”

10News found the home has had eight owners since 1994. It is currently owned by Heaven Sent Rentals LLC in Newtown. One of the owners said the current tenant is quiet and has been there a year. She can't figure out why the address would have been targeted.

Investigators are currently trying to figure out who made the original 911 call.

When responding to more dangerous calls, ambulances will often stage while police secure the scene first. But, since this began as a routine call, the paramedics responded normally.

“Any time one of our first responders is assaulted or shot at it is a big deal," Robinson said. "That’s not just an assault on the individuals driving that truck, the fire department but truly all first responders -- and that’s an assault on the community.”

Sarasota firefighters and paramedics go through active shooter training. As a precaution, the fire department will be calling police officers for backup on a case-by-case basis, at least until the suspect is caught.

Officials said additional precautions are also being taken but declined to discuss them in detail citing security concerns.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call 941-316-1199.

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