NORTH MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The search for a fugitive who was wanted for a violent attack on a woman in the Florida Panhandle ended with a shootout on Friday, as police say the suspect took off running and fired at them.
Chopper 4 was there as the suspect, 36-year-old Joe Fernandez, was captured and then transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital with wounds in his arm and a leg.
“I was scared. There have been too many shootings here. I was worried about my children,” said neighbor Fabian Magdaline.
Barry Golden, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench that a joint task force involving North Miami Police and federal marshals had tracked Fernandez to an apartment building on the corner of Northeast 6th Avenue and 144th Street.
“Police spotted the suspect and shots were fired by him,” said North Miami Police Major Neal Cuevas. “He began running and then police chased him. And an officer returned fire.”
Cuevas said Fernandez was wounded by a North Miami officer.
“This suspect was wanted for an attempted homicide,” said Cuevas. “He was very dangerous.”
Cuevas told CBS4 that Fernandez tried to rob a woman on August 1st in Opaloosa, near Ft. Walton Beach, and then shot her, firing as many as six bullets.
“This individual was wanted for attempted murder and attempted robbery with a firearms,” said Golden. “He has convictions for firearms. He has two convictions for firearms.”
Golden said he had been arrested 13 times and has seven convictions. Golden said Fernandez has family in Opaloopsa and here in South Florida.
“This is what we deal with,” said Golden. “We use our manpower to get the job done. We work as a team and we fight to put fugitives behind bars.”
The incident prompted police to block off the neighborhood with a perimeter and forced the temporary lockdown of North Miami Elementary School.
Police said Fernandez was spotted leaving an apartment on the fourth floor of the building at 14425 N.E. 6th Ave.
Both D’Oench and CBS4’s Lauren Pestrana knocked on the door of that apartment, but those inside it did not want to say anything.
Golden said he did not think anyone in that apartment was in trouble for possibly harboring Fernandez. It’s not clear what Fernandez was doing inside that apartment.
John Rivera, the President of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association, came to the crime scene because once again, one of his union members had been involved in a police-involved shooting.
Rivera told D’Oench that this was the seventh police-involved shooting in Miami-Dade in August, which is well ahead of last year’s pace.
“Once again we have a shooting where the lives of police officers are threatened,” said Rivera. “This exemplifies how dangerous this job is for our officers and how they need our support and all of the support from the community.”
Many police officers are still haunted by the truly disturbing memories of how Miami-Dade Police officers Amanda Haworth and Roger Castillo were shot and killed in January of 2011 while they were part of a task force that was serving a warrant on a violent criminal.
Police say Joe Fernandez is facing a series of charges in this latest incident including the attempted murder of police officers.