PEMBROKE PINES (CBSMiami) – The Broward Sheriff’s Office has released the name of the man who was shot and killed by deputies after he apparently tried to make good on a threat to rob a Pembroke Pines business.
The 23-year-old man has been identified as Andrew Thomas.
His family told CBS4’s Ted Scouten that Thomas was no angel and did prison time, but they can’t figure out why he would try to rob an insurance office.
The shooting took place Thursday night at a strip mall at 1462 S. Palm Avenue near Pembroke Park Road.
Thomas, investigators said, intended to rob an Allstate Insurance business in the mall and harm anyone who got in his way.
But detectives had learned about Thomas’ plans from a confidential informant and they were waiting for him when he showed up.
When the masked gunman walked into the insurance office, he encountered BSO deputies and “did not comply with their orders,” according to BSO. “The deputies perceived a threat and responded with deadly force,” stated a BSO release.
No deputies were hurt and there were no employees inside the business during the shooting however, there was a room full of kids about three doors down who were taking part in a summer camp inside a Tae Kwon Do studio.
Prior to the shooting, plain-clothed officers burst inside the studio.
“All of a sudden I heard yanking on the door and the cops come in, rushing us, telling us to get in the back and sit down, be quiet, don’t make any noises and I was kind of scared, actually,” said Riyad Wilmot.
The kids and the studio owner heard the frightening gunfire.
“We just heard over a walkie-talkie that the suspect is approaching and don’t move, don’t go nowhere, he’s coming he’s coming then suddenly we just hear the popping sound and the kids were right there by the wall and they could hear everything, described studio owner Hafida Wilmot.
“It was really loud, loud bangs, like pop pop and like loud,” said Riyad. “It actually kind of hurt my ears.”
The masked suspect was killed in a hail of gunfire. The studio owner now wonders she wasn’t given a heads up.
“You don’t come in, you just let me know, that way I can take my kids and go. I can take them to a park, whatever it is, they don’t have to be here to see that,” said Wilmot.
When asked about Wilmot’s concerns, BSO said anybody who was in danger was evacuated or kept a safe distance away.
“There were no civilians in danger at any time,” said Broward Sheriff Scott Israel Thursday night.
Three deputies, Gerardo Lopez, 40, Carlos Gomez, 32, and Jason Rotella, 40, have been placed on administrative assignment pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard procedure.
It is unknown why Thomas targeted this particular business.