HOMESTEAD, FLA. (WSVN) - A man has died after he was shot by an off-duty Miami-Dade Police officer during a standoff in the parking lot of a Publix supermarket in Homestead, police said.
Disturbing cellphone video captured the moments leading up to the shooting at the Oasis Plaza Shopping Center, located along the 2900 block of Northeast Eighth Street, Saturday evening.
Miami-Dade Police, Homestead and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue units responded to the scene of the shooting at around 6:15 p.m.
Investigators said a man had begun shooting a gun in the parking lot.
The cellphone video captured four gunshots echoing through the parking lot, as the person recording it ducked for cover.
The gun-wielding subject, who has been identified as 44-year-old Alexander Arrington, was seen standing next to an SUV parked near the entrance of the grocery store. While waving the pistol around, he told people to go home as he waved the pistol around.
Moments later, he was seen discharging his firearm twice into a vehicle’s driver-side window.
A Homestead Police officer ran toward the gunfire, as the man fumbled with his keys.
Audio from the cellphone video captured Homestead Police officers demanding that the gun-wielding subject drop his weapon.
“I’m going home!” Arrington screamed at the officers.
“Once the police arrived, multiple commands are given to put that firearm down. He refuses,” said MDPD Detective Alvaro Zabaleta.
That’s when, detectives said, an off-duty MDPD officer showed up to help intervene.
“One of our off-duty officers, when he sees what’s going on, immediately engages to assist the fellow officer, and that’s when the shots were fired, and our officer struck the subject,” said Zabaleta.
“You have a responsibility to safeguard life whether you are on or off duty,” said Jorge Colina, retired Miami Police Chief.
Colina runs a consulting firm and said officers there had to ask themselves one question: was there a threat to public safety?
“He could have easily turned around and fired at those people, he could have fired at anybody around. It could have gone into that car window out the other side and struck someone,” Colina said. “There was so much potential there. You can’t afford to let things play out when someone looks like– it’s reasonable to believe that they’re going to harm someone, potentially take someone’s life.”
MDPD identified the off-duty officer as Francisco Moreno, a 30-year veteran of the force assigned to Kendall.
Steadman Stahl, the president of the South Florida Police Benevolent Association, said although the officer was off duty, it is their policy for an officer to intervene in this kind of situation.
“I think one misconception from the public is that whether we are off duty or on duty, we are on duty 24 hours a day,” he said. “In fact, we have a policy that says we must take action.”
He continued and said the training instructs officers to shoot for center mass to stop a threat.
“From the video, I can see [the officer] wasn’t left with much of an opportunity when he’s pointing the gun at him. He’s pointing the gun at people and into a vehicle,” said Stahl. “I’m not sure if it was his vehicle or not. I’m not sure if anyone was in the back seat, but that officer that’s sitting out there, he’s seeing someone walking through a Publix shopping center.”
Shopper Janet Kaufman said she and her husband were inside the busy supermarket when the situation spiraled into chaos.
“All of a sudden, we hear screams and then gunshots,” she said.
Moments later, Kaufman said, Publix employees escorted shoppers to the back of the store and opened rear exits.
“It felt like in slow motion, and we see an employee from Publix tell us, ‘OK, everybody run to the back,'” she said. “It becomes chaos, people pushing each other.”
Paramedics airlifted Arrington to Jackson South Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Back at the scene of the shooting, cellphone footage also captured an active police presence in the parking lot.
Like many other witnesses, Kaufman said, she was left shaken.
“This is very scary. I think that something needs to be done about gun control,” she said.
As detectives with Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement investigate the incident, they’ll be asking Moreno several questions.
“Was your life in danger, was it reasonable for you to believe that your life was in danger or that of others?” Colina said. “And then he’s going to have to articulate that. We are looking at videos. That doesn’t mean what he saw.”
As of Monday afternoon, it remains a mystery as to what prompted Arrington to begin firing in the parking lot.
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