Three officers were shot in a series of shootings in Miami-Dade Tuesday morning, setting off a massive police search and confrontation that ended with two suspects dead.
Saul Rodriguez, a 13-year veteran with Miami-Dade Police, was shot in the abdomen and was in stable condition after undergoing surgery early Tuesday. The other two were shot in the arm, were hospitalized and then later released, police said. A fourth officer was injured by broken glass at the scene, police said. Two Miami officers were brought to the hospital for observation.
All the officers are expected to be okay, police said.
"We want to ask for the continued prayers and support for the officers and their families as well as the Miami-Dade community in general," Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson said at a news conference.
The first shooting was reported around 5 a.m. when an officer responded to a call about shots fired at 2260 NW 27th Ave. in Miami. A suspect, who was identified by family members as 27-year-old Adrian Montesano, confronted Rodriguez and shot him, police said.
The suspect then stole the officer's marked cruiser and fled, police said.
"After the original officer was shot, we believe that gentleman, that subject did jump into the police car and take the police car," Patterson said.
The incident set off a massive manhunt involving Miami Police, Miami-Dade Police and Hialeah Police.
It's believed the suspect or suspects ditched the police car and got into a 2004 blue Volvo believed to belong to one of the suspects' grandmothers. An off-duty officer who lives nearby noticed the abandoned patrol car, radioed it in, and pointed authorities in the right direction.
“He led the police to go after the right person, so he was able to identify who the perpetrator was,” said a neighbor, who only wanted to be identified by his first name, Joshua.
A short time later, officers closed in on the car at Northwest 27th Avenue and 70th Street.
At one point, officers surrounded the blue Volvo convertible, and shots were exchanged.
One suspect died at the scene and another was pronounced dead at Jackson Memorial Hospital later.
A police mobile command unit left the scene in northwest Miami-Dade late Tuesday night.
Patterson said police continue to investigate.
Police said that the suspect, who was identified as Montesano, was responsible for an armed robbery that occurred at a Walgreens at 2700 West Flagler St. in Miami.
PHOTO: Adrian Montesano (below).
A friend of Montesano, who didn't want to be identified, said the man had a drug problem.
"He had an addiction and he was good and then he was bad," the friend said. "I didn't think that it would ever have gone this far. Me knowing Adrian and who he was and I didn't think it was that bad."
Patterson said the officers were in a very dangerous situation.
"Any time an officer is assaulted by anybody, that person is dangerous," he said.
Dozens of police went to the hospital Tuesday to be at the side of their injured fellow officers. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association President John Rivera also visited the hospital.
Miami Fraternal Order of Police President Javier Ortiz thanked the hospital for caring for the officers and said it could have been much worse.
"It is a blessing that no innocent citizens were injured or killed as a result of the reckless actions of the subjects," Ortiz said in a statement.
Ortiz also released a photo (below) of one of the suspects inside the store during the robbery. The photo appears to show the suspect holding a gun against either an employee or customer.
Ralph Padron, who said he was a family friend of one of the suspects, said the suspect took his grandmother's car and went on the spree. The woman is in shock, he said.
"I don't know what transpired or who he was hanging out with or if he was on some sort of exotic drug or some crap like this, but it's nothing to do with his person or who he was," Padron said.