MIAMI (CBS4) – A veteran Miami-Dade detective is listed as stable at Jackson Memorial Hospital after he was shot during a drug operation.
The shooting happened just before 7 p.m. Tuesday at a home near Coral Way and Southwest 60th Avenue.
Officers had house under surveillance after receiving a tip that was being used as grow house. The operation was part of a drug task force that included state and federal agents, including the FBI.
When two detectives saw Luis Lazaro Estevanell come out of the front door of the house, they approached him to ask if he would give his consent for them to search it. Before they reached him, police say 56-year old Gerardo Delgado, who was sitting in a car parked nearby, jumped out and began shooting.
Officers returned fire and killed Delgado but not before he shot Detective John Saavedra.
Saavedra, 34, was wearing a bullet proof vest but he was struck below it. He was shot twice in the lower abdomen and once in a thigh. He was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he was rushed into surgery. Saavedra is a decorated detective with more than a dozen years on the force.
“It appears he’ll be OK, we’re certainly praying that he will be,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Roy Rutland.
Saavedra has been in the headlines before. In 2004 he was involved in a deadly shooting in Perrine. A mentally handicapped man was attacking two female officers when he stepped in. The shooting was ruled within the department’s guidelines for use of deadly force.
Saavedra was cleared in the shooting and was honored the following year by the department as Officer of the year.
“He’s a great officer. I thank God everyday that he did what he did because if he didn’t I would be here,” Millie Garcia said in 2005.
Over the years, Saavedrea rose in the ranks in the narcotics division. His near death experience on Tuesday gave many of his colleagues reason to pause and reflect of their jobs.
“You never know when they are going to come home or not. It was an ambush type of situation on the officer. Luckily the officers lived,” said Steadman Stahl with the Police Benevolent Association.
Stahl said the union will be there to assist Saavedra and his family with whatever they need.
Police said it’s still not clear who shot and killed Delgado; Saavedra or one of the others on the squad.
Estevanell was taken into custody.
Late Tuesday evening a police special response team used tear gas and smoke to see if anyone may have hiding in the house. There wasn’t. When police entered the home they found a fully operational hydroponics set up. They seized more than 25 pound of marijuana.
During questioning, police say Estevanell admitted to operating a grow house. He’s been charged with Second Degree Felony Murder, Trafficking Marijuana, Possession of Place/Manufacture Controlled Substance and Possession of Cocaine.