HIALEAH (CBSMiami) – A white sedan was rendered a block of metallic Swiss cheese, hit by scores of police bullets after a 20 minute chase that went around in circles in a small area of Hialeah early Sunday morning.
Lester Jesus Machado, 24, was shot dead following what police say began as a routine traffic stop.
“He places his vehicle in reverse, and speeds toward the officers. They jump back into their vehicles for their own safety, and then he takes advantage and speeds away,” said Hialeah Police Sgt. Carl Zogby.
Hialeah Police say Machado rammed several of their officers during the pursuit, finally knocking one squad car out of control and officers surrounded him. Six officers opened fire as Machado allegedly again drove at them in the area of NW 35 Avenue and 79 Street.
“His actions, he used his car as a deadly weapon. We know from recent terrorist attacks and everything that cars can kill a lot of people. Cars are weapons,” Zogby said.
Machado’s family members gathered at the scene of the shooting Monday, grieving and displaying police bullet fragments left behind. Bullet holes pockmarked the fence around a nearby church.
“It doesn’t feel real to me yet. I feel like I’m going to get home and he’s waiting there for me,” said Lesly Morales, Machado’s sister.
“Lester was such a good boyfriend,” said his girlfriend, Lizbed Padron. “A couple of hours before he died, we went to Hooters and we had such a great time. We were telling how much we loved each other.”
Padron said he told his mother he was going to visit a cousin about 2 a.m. Police wouldn’t reveal the reason for the original traffic stop.
One police car had bullet holes in its windshield, the officer unloading his gun at the suspect through the windshield. Machado was a sales manager at an AutoZone store in Hialeah. He had a years-old arrest for simple battery and a more recent one for purchasing marijuana.
“He was kind. He was nice. He didn’t deserve anything like this,” said cousin Keily Gavara.
Not known is why Machado ran from police. No gun was found, and there was no contraband in his car.