MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami-Dade police seized 80 pounds of marijuana from a home in south Miami-Dade which was being used as a grow house.
Tuesday evening a Miami-Dade police detective was injured, another man killed, in a shootout in front of the home near Coral Way and SW 6oth Avenue just before 7 p.m.
The house had been under surveillance for several days after police received a tip that was being used as a grow marijuana. The operation was part of a drug task force that included state and federal agents, including the FBI.
A case squad assigned to the house regularly drove by it to measure the amount of activity going on around it. Tuesday evening two detectives were staking it out, when they noticed a man come out the front door. That man was later identified as Luis Lazaro Estevanell.
When the detectives approached Estevanell to ask if he would consent to a search of the house, police say 56-year old Gerardo Delgado jumped out of a nearby parked car and started shooting.
Officers returned fire and Delgado was killed.
On Wednesday, Delgado’s wife and son visited the home they own to see where he died in a hail of gunfire.
“He was a great man and didn’t deserve this,” said Delgado’s son Geraldo.
Delgado said when his father saw the two men walking toward the house, he thought they were intruders.
“My father came out to protect his property and the strange man turned out to be a police officer that murder him on the spot,” said Delgado.
“I think it’s all a misunderstanding,” said Delgado’s wife Isabel. “I just can believe this.”
Isabel Delgado said she and her husband were married for 25 years, he was a father of three and worked out of that home for many years as a jeweler.
“I can’t believe this happened. He was a good father, a good husband, a very generous person, very caring,” said Isabel Delgado.
Miami-Dade Police Lt. Rosanna Cordero-Stutz said police were justified in taking the actions that they did.
“The individual exited his vehicle and started firing and the detectives were forced to return fire,” she said. “This is the type of situation that officers are trained for and when they are fired on, they are forced to return fire.”
Cordero-Stutz said 80 pounds of marijuana was confiscated from the home that is worth $90,000 on the street.
In the shootout Detective John Saavedra, 34, was struck below his bullet proof vest; twice in the abdomen and once in the thigh. He was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital and rushed into surgery.
“He was conscious he was talking to family members he spoke to his wife on the phone and we had a chance to talk to him briefly,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Roy Rutland. “It appears he’ll be okay, we’re certainly praying that he will be.”
Saavedra is a decorated detective with more than a dozen years on the force.
Police took Estevanell into custody. He’s been charged with Second Degree Felony Murder, Trafficking Marijuana, Possession of Place/Manufacture Controlled Substance and Possession of Cocaine.
Tuesday evening, a police special response team used to tear gas and smoke to determine if anyone else was still in the house. There wasn’t. Once inside they found a fully functional hydroponics set up growing marijuana.