NORTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - Police are investigating after a Miami-Dade Police officer was shot at a Northwest Miami-Dade Wal-Mart, Wednesday.
Officers responded to the scene at Northwest 79th Street and 32nd Avenue, at around 1 p.m.
According to police, the uniformed officer, 31-year-old Manuel Gonzalez, was working off-duty for extra money at the Wal-Mart when he saw 54-year-old David Facen attempting to shoplift from the store. Gonzalez then approached Facen, who responded by pulling out his gun.
“‘Boom, boom, boom, boom!'” said a witness, describing the shooting.
Gonzalez was shot several times at close range. He returned fire, killing Facen.
Facen was pronounced dead on the scene.
Gonzalez was transported to the hospital with what appeared to be a leg wound. He limped in with the help of other officers. He remains in stable condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, Thursday, and is expected to be OK.
“Please, I ask the community continue to support the officer with their prayers and thoughts — not only for him, but for his family,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez.
According to Perez, Gonzalez is a seven-year veteran of the department who is married with two small children. He is an investigator for the general investigations unit at the Northside unit.
Perez said the Gonzalez is currently in good spirits despite being shot. “What occurred today is that the officer that is laying in that bed behind us today was born again because at close range, he was able to survive multiple gunshot wounds,” said Perez. “God was with him. I just cannot emphasize that enough.”
Family as well as police from Miami and Miami-Dade arrived to Jackson Memorial Hospital to check in on the wounded officer.
Miami-Dade Police officer Ricky Carter, who lost his legs in May after a motorcycle accident, also visited the officer.
Perez also gave a passionate plea stating the importance of stopping the violence in the community.
“We need to stop the violence at all levels,” Perez said. “Not only against officers, but against security – imagine if security would have approached that guy without a firearm? We need to stop the violence. We need to get together – the community – and really alert law enforcement when there’s people in the community that shouldn’t have them.”
“It reminds us of how violent the streets are in Miami-Dade County,” said John Rivera, president of the Miami-Dade County Police Benevolent Association. “For me and the years I’ve been doing this, I don’t see this violence going away anytime soon.”
According to court records, Facen was released from prison in November 2016 after spending 11 years behind bars. Facen also spent most of the 90s in jail for second degree murder and gun charges.
“Even though he might have had his faults, he was still a good man,” said Facen’s girlfriend Eugenia McMath. “All this is news to me. And what I think was done to him was unfair.”
7Skyforce hovered over the scene, Wednesday, where the Facen’s body was covered with yellow tarp in the Wal-Mart parking lot full of shoppers.
“There is a firearm on the scene that belongs to the subject, close to where the body fell. Right now, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the entire incident,” said Perez.
During the initial investigation, shoppers at the store began to grow frustrated as they found it difficult to leave the business. One man said he was in his car outside the building when officers told him to go inside.
“We were eating in the car, and then we heard three gunshots, and then we heard two gunshots, and then seven right after that, and everybody started running in our direction, and then we realized there was an off-duty officer that had gotten shot,” said Nick, who was stuck inside the store. “There was people running. We didn’t see the shooter, but we saw the car that the shooter was in. He was actually surrounded in the car.”
Yvonne Jackson said she saw officers running to respond to the scene. “When I got ready to get to that gate right there, I [saw all the officers] and I almost got hit, really,” she said.
The Wal-Mart has since resumed normal operations.
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