MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Two undercover detectives ambushed while on the job are lucky to be alive after a barrage of bullets was fired into their unmarked Miami-Dade Police unit just a day before.
Ten hours after the shootings, officers swarmed the Hyatt Place Hotel on LeJeune Road and say they took several people connected to the shooting into custody for questioning.
Philip told CBS4’s Joan Murray he was in his room on the third floor of the hotel when he heard the commotion in the hallway.
“It was so loud…I thought it was in my room,” said Philip.
Late Tuesday evening, authorities said they arrested a 18-year-old male, who was among those detained, on unrelated charges.
Authorities say the two detectives are lucky to be alive after what happened the night before.
Around 10 p.m. Monday, Detectives Charles Woods, 47, and Terence White, 37, were conducting surveillance for gang activity at the Annie Coleman complex at 1937 NW 60 Street, a senior law enforcement source said.
That’s when a group of men approached their minivan. They called for backup, but before they could get out of their car, one of the young men pulled out what appeared to be an AK47 assault rifle and began ringing the car with bullets. The shooter moved toward the unmarked car as he fired, starting on the passenger side, working his way around the front of the car and then shooting at the driver’s side, according to a law enforcement source.
One of the officers was able to return fire.
More than 20 rounds were fired at the unmarked car.
An arriving officer rushed the two detectives to the Jackson Ryder Trauma Center in the back of a black pickup truck.
“They are lucky to be alive. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a car hit by so many rounds. A high-powered weapon struck that vehicle and the officers should be counting their blessings today. We certainly are counting our blessings,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez.
After spraying the detective’s vehicle with bullets, the gunmen took off.
CBS4 has learned the detectives were part of a nationwide federal operation to crackdown on violent gangs.
The project, run by Homeland Security Investigations, is called “operation new dawn”
The local police pick a target area and the feds organize the action.
“Last night it was our officers, but today, moving forward, if we don’t get these individuals off the street, it will be our community, members of the same community that will be impacted,” said Perez.
It’s a community that has had enough with the violence.
“All everybody wants is for all this to stop. We don’t know how it is going to stop if the police are going to help us, or the neighborhood, but all of this has to stop,” said a neighbor.
White, a 26-year veteran of the force, who was shot in the foot remains in the hospital where he is listed as stable. Woods, an 11-year veteran, who was shot in the arm was treated and released.
Throughout the morning there was a steady flow of Miami-Dade Police officers coming in and out of Jackson Memorial Hospital. Parked in front of the emergency room all night was the same unmarked black police pick up truck that transported the injured detectives to the hospital.
“We do whatever we have to do to save our officers,” said Perez.
John Rivera with the Police Benevolent Association said he’s disturbed by the number of police ambushes he’s seeing nationally.
“Here, in particular in the South portion of the United States of America, it’s more prevalent. As a community, I ask just support your place and make sure that these people that we put into office give us the necessary resources to fight these bad guys,” said Rivera.
His plea echoes that of the Miami-Dade Police Department – if anyone has information in the case – speak up.
“You’re never going to win. You’re never gonna win and we’re going to come after you harder than ever before,” Rivera said as a message to those responsible for the ambush.
Miami-Dade police said earlier they were looking for at least two suspects while the police union said they were looking for up to six people. Only a vague description was given for one of them, a young man with a hoodie pulled over his face so that you could only see his eyes.
If you have any information that can help police, please contact Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS.