MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A man with an AK-47 started shooting while driving on the Palmetto Expressway overnight, hitting multiple cars and getting into a shootout with officers, police said.
Monday morning, evidence markers were peppered across the southbound lanes of the Palmetto Expressway (SR-826). You could see a burgundy Toyota Corolla police say was driven by the suspect, 36-year-old Horvin Ruiz.
Enrique Bendana was driving home on the Palmetto early Monday morning when he heard gunshots.
“Next thing I know I hear a big enormous gunshot in my car.,” he explained. “Like an explosion inside my ear.”
The bullet smashed through his rear passenger window, ripped through his passenger headrest before exiting the front windshield. Amazingly, Bendana suffered only some cuts but nothing else. He said if he had a passenger in his car, the shot would have likely been a different outcome.
“If I would have had a passenger it would have been dead in an instant,” Bendana explained.
Miami-Dade police said Ruiz started shooting at around 1 p.m. somewhere near 74th Street and struck at least two cars. Officers with Miami-Dade, Doral and Florida Highway Patrol responded to the scene.
Witnesses said they pulled over to check on one of the victims.
“Her car got shot…three bullets went through her car and one actually went right behind her head. It was like inches away,” said Charles.
Although police won’t confirm, CBS4 discovered a third car and a gunshot victim. Police said they are looking to see if it’s connected to the shooting.
According to police, Ruiz lost control started traveling northbound on the southbound lanes crashed again and was surrounded by officers. Police said he kept firing but not for long. Officers started shooting.
“There was an exchange of gunfire where nobody was injured. However, the suspect did give up. At that point, officers were able to apprehend him,” said Miami-Dade Police Officer Dan Ferrin.
It remains unclear what agency fired the shots. That is under investigation.
Police said Ruiz was grazed by a bullet in the face during the exchange. No one was killed.
“How many rounds do you think were fired, and isn’t it a miracle that nobody got killed?” asked CBS4’s Silva Harapetian.
“From the scene, as you can tell, there are a lot of yellow markers and a lot of those are from the actual rounds fired. The quick response from Miami-Dade Police West District, quick response FHP, quick response from City of Doral Police Department collaborating was able to stop this individual from hurting anyone else,” said Ferrin.
When asked about the exchange of fire with the suspect and possibly other motorists nearby, Ferrin said their job is to protect the public and officers do so by taking everything into consideration.
There was plenty of damage done to the vehicles of survivors.
Victim Simone Evans showed CBS4 News the bullet hole in the front windshield of her car on the passenger side. Sitting in the passenger seat was her partner Michael, who was unharmed.
Evans described the scene as they drove south on the Palmetto Expressway. She said she saw flickers of light, which were gunshots.
“All of a sudden we started seeing flashing lights and hearing popping noises and we ducked,” she said. “At the moment, our concern was to get off the highway. We were sitting ducks.”
Another passenger in her car jumped in the driver’s seat and quickly reversed them off the highway to safety in a maneuver she called a “Fast and Furious” move. No one was hurt and she’s still sorting it all out.
“I just want to figure out what happened,” she said. “Why would someone do something like this?”
As for a motive, it is unclear if Ruiz was aiming at someone, if someone was shooting back at him, or if it was a random act.
Bendana had some choice words for the shooter.
“The guys an idiot,” he said. “What’s wrong with him? He needs to go to jail the rest of his life.”
The southbound lanes of the Palmetto Expressway (SR-826) between 74th to 58th were shut down for hours due to incident.
Miami-Dade police said there may be other witnesses and victims. They are urged to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at (305) 471-TIPS (8477).