MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez says 13 of the 19 officers who fired their weapons during the deadly shootout in Miramar were from his department and are now on administrative leave.
Thursday’s violent chain of events began with a jewelry store robbery which led to a stolen UPS truck and two-county police chase that ended in a hail of gunfire at a busy intersection during rush hour.
Director Perez tried to hold back tears while talking about the investigation to CBS4’s Ty Russell.
He said what hurts the most is that two innocent lives were taken.
UPS driver Frank Ordonez was killed in the gunfire after being taken hostage in Coral Gables. The fourth victim, in another car at the Miramar intersection, was “an innocent bystander,” according to the FBI.
That “innocent bystander” has been identified by a neighbor as 70-year-old Richard Cutshaw of Pembroke Pines.
Perez said the 19 officers who fired their weapons were from four different law enforcement agencies.
Thirteen of those officers were from the Miami-Dade Police Department and are now on administrative leave.
Perez defended the actions of his officers.
“From what we know, I don’t know of anything else that could’ve been done,” the director told CBS 4 News.
The police director said he doesn’t know what kind of guns the suspects had.
The FBI is releasing information about the suspects and already identified them as Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Hill, both 41, of Miami-Dade.
When asked why pursuing officers didn’t use stop sticks, to slow the UPS truck down, he said not all officers have them. He also added that officers who may have had them may not have seen a safe opportunity to use them.
Perez explained officers were shot at during the chase, not just at the end.
He also explained why officers moved in closer to the truck moments before the shootout.
“I would also want to move up. Why? Because I would want to get between the civilians and the two perpetrators. The two violent felons that are continuing to shoot at least enforcement. I want to put myself on the front lines. The officers did come up and in that process, from what I understand, one of the subjects shot at officers and that prompted the shootout at that scene,” he explained. “I don’t know what anything else could’ve been done, right now. At the end of this investigation, at the end of our debriefings and piecing this together and critiquing, which we do after any critical incident, we may find opportunities to improve on how we respond to situations.”
Director Perez described the ending as the worst-case scenario.
“We are going to look at this incident and self-critique it and to see what could’ve been done differently. Obviously, the results weren’t ideal,” he said.
As the FBI investigates the gunmen, the FDLE is investigating the actual shootout involving officers.
When asked about responding to the families of the two innocent victims, he says there is not much he can say to make the distraught and grieving families feel any better.
He also held back tears during the interview about the investigation since two innocent people were killed.
“I care. I care about this community. I care. I’m a father and a husband,” he said.
The department is waiting on the medical examiner to determine if the suspects or bullets from officers struck the two innocent people.
The director told us the FLDE and the State Attorney’s Office will look into officers’ actions to see if there was any wrongdoing.