MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) –– A stolen car suspect was shot by the vehicle’s driver in Miami Beach Tuesday morning. He was rushed to the hospital with a gunshot wound where he later died, police said.
According to Miami Beach Police, it started as a vehicle theft that turned into a shooting, crash and standoff.
Someone was getting their car washed and detailed and someone tried to steal the Mercedes SUV.
“An unknown subject enters it, attempts to steal that vehicle, as he is stealing that vehicle the person who we believe is the owner of that vehicle actually discharges his firearm toward that vehicle, striking the subject who was stealing that vehicle,” explained Miami Beach Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez.
Police identified the shooter as Stephen Lott.
However, the suspect only made it a short distance and slammed into the wall of an Office Depot just west of Alton Road and 18 Street.
In video from Chopper 4, the white SUV is seen jutting out of a large gaping hole in the wall, as a large police presence surrounded the building.
It wasn’t known at that point whether the driver was armed or not and was refusing to come out so police told everyone in the area to remain inside and warned others to avoid the area.
Then officers, heavily protected with shields, moved toward the SUV and pulled the driver out.
He had suffered a gunshot wound and was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center where he died.
Police have not released the name of the person who died.
Attorney Michael Grieco is representing Lott. “He’s not feeling great. He killed somebody,” said Grieco. “This is not a ‘who done it.’ It’s a ‘why they done it.'”
He tells us surveillance video will show what happened. He said Lott was simply trying to protect himself.
“It’s straight up self-defense, where somebody’s trying to run you over with a vehicle. A vehicle is a weapon,” Grieco said.
Grieco told CBS 4 News Lott has been cooperating with police and feels confident he will not face charges when the investigation is complete.
“The person who passed was committing a felony,” he said. “My client was simply defending himself, protecting his own life,”
A pair of law enforcement experts told CBS 4 News that the question for investigators is this: Did the shooter have a well-founded fear that his life or someone else’s life was in danger? The answer to that question will likely determine whether criminal charges are filed as a result of this shooting.