Suspects in trooper's shooting death arrested

Published January 14, 2007

LAKE PLACID - Two suspects in the shooting death of a Florida Highway Patrol trooper with Tampa ties were arrested Saturday, authorities said.

Joshua Lee Altersberger, 19, was arrested at his home in Sebring about 4:30 a.m. Saturday and was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sgt. Nicholas Sottile a day earlier.

A second man, 21-year-old Quintin Jerome Kinder, 21, of Bainbridge, Ga., gave himself up to a search team about 6 a.m. Charges were pending.

Sottile, 48, saw Altersberger driving erratically Friday and pulled him over. As Sottile approached the vehicle, Kinder, the passenger, ran into an orange grove, said Ernie Duarte, a Highway Patrol spokesman.

Sottile went back to his patrol car to call for backup and was walking toward the men's car when Altersberger shot him in the chest at 3:22 p.m., Duarte said.

Altersberger fled. Sottile was pronounced dead at Florida Hospital Lake Placid. The suspects' vehicle was later found in an orange grove in Sebring.

Sottile, 48, had worked for the patrol for nearly 24 years. He worked in Tampa for two years before returning to his home turf in Highlands County a year ago, Trooper Larry Coggins said. He leaves behind a wife, Elizabeth; a daughter, Heather, of Orlando; and a son, Nick, of Tampa, who also works as a Highway Patrol trooper.

Sottile's funeral will be Tuesday in Sebring. His death was noted by Gov. Charlie Crist.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Sgt. Nick Sottile and his fellow troopers," Crist said in a statement. "Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day for the safety and security of our state, and I speak for all Floridians in offering our deepest gratitude for their sacrifices."

The last time a trooper was shot and killed was in May 1998 in Pasco County. James B. Crooks, 23, was attempting to apprehend a man who had just killed two Tampa police detectives.