CORAL GABLES, FLA. (WSVN) - Four people, including a UPS driver, have died after a police chase that spanned more than 30 miles across highways and surface streets ended with gunfire in Miramar after officers pursued alleged armed robbery subjects from Coral Gables, according to the FBI.
Coral Gables Police first responded to a shooting outside of a jewelry store along the 300 block of Miracle Mile at around 4:15 p.m., Thursday.
7SkyForce HD flew over the scene where police tape was seen wrapped around Regent Jewelers and markers were placed along the alleyway behind the store.
According to police, two subjects allegedly robbed Regent Jewelers in the area of Le Jeune Road.
On Friday, the FBI later identified them as 41-year-old Lamar Alexander and 41-year-old Ronnie Jerome Hill.
Coral Gables Police Chief Edward Hudak said the subjects fled north in a U-Haul to the area of 1261 Mariana Ave. where they abandoned the vehicle and abducted a UPS delivery truck and its driver, later identified as 27-year-old Frank Ordonez.
Ordonez was making a delivery at the time of the carjacking, police said.
“At that time, at gunpoint, they abducted a UPS truck and the driver,” Hudak said.
Shortly after the initial call went out, police found the alleged armed robbery subjects driving along the northbound lanes of Florida’s Turnpike in the commandeered truck and gave chase.
The delivery vehicle sped north and wound its way through Miramar and Pembroke Pines. At one point, a marked police cruiser — which had apparently been shot at — veered away from the truck. Ordonez was visible to aerial cameras as the crooks attempted to evade police.
The high-speed chase ended on Miramar Parkway just east of Flamingo Road.
7SkyForce HD flew over the scene where Hill and Alexander could be seen exchanging gunfire with officers. Cellphone video sent to 7News showed officers firing and taking cover behind vehicles in traffic while a person yelled, “Shooting! Shooting!” in Spanish.
FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro said in a news conference that the two subjects and two innocent civilians, including the abducted UPS driver, died.
“Our condolences go to the families of the deceased of today’s unfortunate incident,” Piro said.
In another cellphone video, the back window of a civilian’s car was shattered by bullets, and the person behind the wheel could be seen slumped over. The driver behind the wheel of that black sedan would succumb to his injuries.
Authorities have not released the victim’s identity as of Friday afternoon.
UPS released a statement upon learning of the death of Ordonez that read, “We are deeply saddened that UPS service provider Frank Ordonez passed away from a senseless act of violence on December 5, 2019. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends and the other innocent victims involved in this incident.”
The company also stated Ordonez joined the company in 2016 and initially worked as a package handler before becoming a delivery driver.
Two other people who suffered minor injuries from a motor vehicle crash, were not shot and refused transport, according to fire rescue.
“That poor UPS driver, you know, that goes to work in the morning not knowing that they’re going to be involved in something like this,” said Miguel Abreu, who lives near the scene.
“It doesn’t matter that it was close to my house,” resident Juan Mendoza said. “It was sad what happened. We saw the video, and from what we saw, it was just sad.”
Avilio Rodriguez said he and his son, Caleb, ducked for cover inside of their car during the shootout.
“It’s pretty scary. It’s pretty scary,” he said. “I held him down, and I had to hold him down, kind of look up, hold him down, kind of look up. He kinda wanted to see what was going on. We were, I would say, maybe like 30 feet behind everything that was going on. You know, it’s different when you see something on TV and you actually live it.”
When asked if there was a possibility during the shootout that police may have shot some of the victims during the confusion, investigators said that it was too early in the investigation to determine that.
“I saw all of the police cars going in one direction on Miramar Parkway,” witness Teresina Monroe said. “Then, all of a sudden, they were coming in the opposite direction, and then, we heard gunshots. Oh, my God, it was like out of a movie scene or something. You don’t see this kind of stuff every day.”
Aerial footage showed over 70 crime scene markers that showed where shots had been fired.
Hudak held a press conference outside the jewelry store after the chase ended.
According to police, Hill and Alexander went inside and held an employee at gunpoint before exchanging gunfire with the jewelry store’s owner.
“The subjects exchanged gunfire with the proprietor, who also fired back,” he said.
According to Hudak, a female employee in the store was injured during the robbery.
“It was very scary to see her with the paramedics and everybody around her,” said Carlos Bolano, who knows the victim and works nearby the store.
She was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital with injuries that were not considered life-threatening. Police said they cannot confirm if the woman was shot.
“I’m shocked,” Bryan Morton, who works near the jewelry store, said. “I’m surprised it happened. You know, you kinda see these kind of things happen, and people just out here just being reckless and just putting other people’s lives at risk for no reason.”
7News cameras captured paramedics leading the woman inside on a stretcher as well as FBI investigators entering the hospital. The woman’s identity has not been released, but officials said she is expected to be OK.
Hudak said at least one bullet hit Coral Gables City Hall, which is located across the street from the jewelry store. According to the Miami Herald, a bullet went through the window of Coral Gables City Clerk Billy Urquia’s office.
“We immediately started our protocols at city hall and locked everything down, as well as the entire area,” Hudak said.
No injuries were reported at city hall.
Miami-Dade Police, the FBI, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Coral Gables Police are investigating the case, Hudak said.
Miramar Police said no law enforcement officers were injured.
“Watching the events unfold live was very alarming [and] heartbreaking because you know that there was a loss of innocent life, and for a crime to initiate outside of your city but come to a tragic and deadly end on your roadways during rush hour is just something that is not normal,” said Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam.
Some of the residents who live near where the chase ended said they had to park their cars four to five blocks away to walk to the entrance of their neighborhood.
Messam also said his number one goal is to provide any support and assistance the city can to the survivors of the deceased UPS driver and bystander.
The FBI has since taken the lead on the investigation, and they have set up a temporary outpost while they continue their investigation on the scene.
The UPS truck was towed away from the scene on Thursday afternoon.
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