HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami) – Two law enforcement officers were shot at the height of rush hour Thursday afternoon, and a suspect lay dead on the pavement, after what started as a carjacking in Miami-Dade County ended on the Turnpike in Hollywood in a blaze of gunfire. Police said the wounds sustained by both officers are not life threatening.
The shooting and a traffic accident stalled traffic on the turnpike in both direction, causing a backup that lasted for miles. Some commuters waited for hours until police started allowing them to turn around.
FBI spokesman Timothy Donovan said the incident began with a carjacking at 75th Street and 27th Avenue. The suspect drove north to Broward County, where he held up a Miramar barber shop.
The owner of the barber shop told CBS4’s Maggie Newland that he was with a customer this afternoon, when the suspect came through the door and headed for the cash register. The owner said he ran out of the store and followed by his customer, who had a gun. The customer began shooting at the suspect’s car, leaving a pile of glass in the parking lot.
The suspect then carjacked another vehicle and hopped on the Turnpike, where he crashed into another car near the Pembroke Road exit.
A police officer from Key Biscayne, identified as 16 year veteran Nelia Real, was traveling home on the Turnpike when witnessed the crash and tried to help. She was shot in the neck by the suspect.
Police say Real is in stable condition.
“We’re very fortunate with her wounds. The bullet missed her vital organs,” said Key Biscayne Police Chief Charles Press. “She will be kept sedated for several days until doctors can see the extent of her wounds from the gunshot to the neck and her facial area. She is completely sedated. Her vital signs are good and doctors are cautiously optimistic.”
A second officer, part of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, was traveling southbound on the turnpike and also saw what was happening. Police say that officer got out to help, and was shot in the arm.
According to Pembroke Pines Fire Chief Gallagher, both were transported to Memorial Regional Hospital, where it was determined their injuries were not life threatening. Both officers are expected to recover.
A third officer, a BSO deputy out of Dania Beach, was also injured in the incident. BSO spokesman Jim Leljedal said the officer was responding to the scene to assist and was involved in a car accident at I-95 and Sheridan Street. The officer, who has not been identified, was also taken to Memorial Regional Hospital and treated for a broken leg.
Motorists stalled on the highway reported seeing a man dressed in all black with a high-powered weapon firing as he walked on the median on the turnpike.
Miami Marlins catcher Brett Hayes was in traffic when the shooting happened.
“Sitting on the Turnpike and a man with a gun just walked by, not good,” Hayes wrote on Twitter.
He continued saying, “Just heard on the radio that a police officer was shot by a guy we saw. Please pray for that officer.”
In the end, the suspect turned the gun on himself. From Chopper 4, his body was seen with covered with a yellow tarp while officers investigated.
The names of the officers have not been released.