HALLANDALE BEACH (CBS4) – Police in Hallandale Beach say they shot and killed an armed robber Thursday evening.
The scene unfolded outside a busy restaurant — Acqua 124 — along U.S. 1 during rush hour.
A Lexus SUV riddled with bullet holes and the back window blown out sat in the parking lot near the front of the restaurant. Next to an open front door, the suspect lay dead.
Pat Cooper was inside the restaurant having dinner when he heard something outside.
“I swear to you I thought it was a movie,” Cooper said. “I saw the policeman saying, “Get out. Get out!” And (the suspect) gets the gun. So I thought this has got to be a joke. And then they whacked him out.”
Many inside ran for cover.
“All of a sudden somebody said, ‘Get Down!'” Katzin said. “There were shots — bap, bap, bap, bap. We thought it was five shots. Someone said it was about 20. It was very frightening.”
Hallandale Police say the suspect used a knife and a gun to rob a nearby Wal-Mart. Police say they followed him to the restaurant, where he stopped.
Investigators say they were forced to open fire, although they said they could not elaborate on details of the shooting.
However, police said they did all they could to protect the public.
“When a serious crime of this nature takes place — an armed robbery — our officers are highly trained to take action and insure that no one else was injured,” said Captain Sonia Quinones.
It was a frightening scene for people enjoying a dinner with friends, forced to scramble to the floor when shots rang out.
“Thank goodness that no one else was hurt in the restaurant,” said Susan Bortis.
Police have not released the identity of the suspect or the number of officers who fired their weapons.
Police said it is standard procedure for the officers to be placed on administrative leave while the investigation moves forward.