HIALEAH (CBSMiami) — A police officer, in uniform, was shot while working an off-duty detail at a northwest Miami-Dade County Walmart Supercenter.
Miami-Dade Police said Officer Manuel Gonzalez was working off-duty detail for security purposes, near NW 32nd Ave and NW 79th Street, when he was called to a suspected shoplifting incident. When he arrived, at some point, there was an exchange of gunfire and the officer was shot at least five times, in the upper and lower torso, at close range.
“The cop was bleeding by the ribs…I heard six shots go off,” said witness Manuel Gonzalez.
“At close range, he was able to survive multiple gunshot wounds,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez.
Police sealed off the parking lot and no one was allowed in. Those wanting to get out had to leave their car.
Joanne Daniels called someone to pick her up.
“It’s crazy. You are in prison and you did nothing,” said Daniels.
Gonzalez was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital Trauma Center in a police car.
According to a high-ranking Miami Police Commander at Ryder, the officer walked into the trauma center under his own power but with a pronounced limp.
“He is stable, thank God, and now we are going to let the investigation take its course. Our concern right now is the condition of the officer and, for now, our prayers are answered,” said Det. Alvaro Zabaleta with Miami-Dade Police.
Perez said the officer was in good spirits despite being injured. Officer Gonzalez has been on the force for seven years and is married with two small children.
“Our officer is going to be okay. Right now, he’s in good spirits despite being shot multiple times,” Perez said. “God was with him today. I can’t emphasize that enough.”
Director Perez said the wounded officer’s wife, a school teacher, recounted having worn a “holy guacamole!” tee shirt to class today.
“They asked her why she wore that and she said ‘because it was going to be a great day,’” Perez said, his voice choking. “It was a great day for us. It was a great day for you, the community,” Perez said.
The officer was surrounded by family at the hospital and was making jokes, sources told CBS4. The person who saw him said, “It clearly hasn’t hit him yet. The adrenaline is still pumping.”
The officer may need surgery. At last check, doctors are assessing the wounds and trying to determine if they need to go in and remove any of the slugs that may still be in his body.
Chopper4 was over the scene where you could see a yellow tarp covering a body in the parking lot of the Walmart. Police said it was the shoplifting suspect who was killed during the confrontation.
The suspect has been identified as David Facen. The 54-year-old Facen has an extensive rap sheet stretching as far back as 1988.
Facen was released in July of 2002 after serving nearly 10 years for a 20-year sentence for second-degree murder and possession of a firearm.
He served another 11 years in prison after being arrested and convicted of aggravated battery with a firearm. Facen was released in 2016, and was on probation at the time of Wednesday’s incident.
About a dozen evidence markers could be seen in the parking lot.
A firearm that belonged to the suspect was recovered from the scene, according to Perez.
No one else at the store or in the parking lot were injured.
As is policy after a police-involved shooting, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) will investigate the shooting.
John Rivera, President of the Police Benevolent Association union told reporters the shootout was further evidence that violence is taking over the community and urged citizens to tell their legislators police need more resources.