A police shootout on a jam-packed highway outside Miami left four people dead on Thursday. Law enforcement opened fire on a hijacked UPS truck ― with the kidnapped driver still inside ― after suspected robbers led them on a high-speed chase.
The UPS driver, an innocent motorist, and two suspected robbers were all killed.
The exact details of what happened ― including who fired their weapon first and how two innocent people were killed ― are not yet clear. But video of the incident shows police swarming around the UPS truck, and then firing over and over as panicked motorists look on.
“It is very early in the investigative process,” said George Piro, the FBI special agent in charge of Miami’s field office, told reporters Thursday. “There are a lot of questions that are still unanswered, and we will be working throughout the night as we not only process the crime scenes but also try to identify all the evidence and facts associated with this robbery.”
“For this to happen, I think, it was just unnecessary,” Joe Merino, Ordonez’s stepfather, told NBC News. “Other tactics should have been applied, and they weren’t. So when I say the word devastated, it’s an understatement.”
Ordonez was a father of two who’d just started driving the route that day, NBC reported. The other person killed has been described as a motorist who happened to be in the area.
Authorities said they received a silent alarm just after 4 p.m. from Regent Jewelers in Coral Gables, Florida. The owner of the jewelry shop exchanged gunfire with the suspects before they ran off, the New York Times reported, and at least two employees were injured in the incident. Authorities said it was unclear if the suspects were able to take anything from the store before fleeing.
Authorities said the suspects abandoned the vehicle they initially fled in, hijacking the UPS truck and taking the driver hostage. It’s unclear if police or suspects inside the UPS truck fired first.
“The only thing we know is that the UPS driver, we believe, was doing a delivery here in Coral Gables,” said Edward J. Hudak Jr., chief of the Coral Gables Police Department. “The getaway truck that was used was found in that location and has been secured by the Coral Gables Police Department.”
As the suspects led police on a chase, news outlets began live-streaming the incident and footage of the deadly firefight quickly spread online.
“This is what dangerous people do to get away, and this is what dangerous people will do to avoid capture,” Hudak told reporters.
UPS confirmed Thursday that one of its drivers was killed but did not release the person’s name.
“We are deeply saddened to learn a UPS service provider was a victim of this senseless act of violence,” the company said in a statement. “We extend our condolences to the family and friends of our employee and the other innocent victims involved in the incident. We appreciate law enforcement’s service and will cooperate with the authorities as they continue the investigation.”
Cover: Law enforcement stand near a vehicle that appears to be part of the crime scene where four people were killed, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019 in Miramar, Fla. The FBI says four people, including a UPS driver, were killed after robbers stole the driver’s truck and led police on a chase that ended in gunfire at a busy Florida intersection during rush hour. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald via AP)