WEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A West Miami-Dade resident said he exchanged gunfire with a pair of thieves who were attempting to steal a catalytic converter from a vehicle, triggering a police investigation.
According to Miami-Dade Police, the call was received around 5 a.m., Wednesday from someone living in an apartment complex at Northwest Eighth Street and 81st Avenue after they heard loud noises outside.
“A victim here at this apartment complex overheard power tools somewhere in the parking lot, he exited his residence with a firearm and proceeded to confront the two subjects,” said MDPD Detective Andre Martin.
Ring surveillance video showed the suspected burglars attempting to steal the converters.
Witnesses said two men were in the process of stealing a catalytic converter, pricey pieces of metal attached to cars.
“They rob catalytic at 4:40 a.m. by my house,” said a resident.
The resident told 7News that when his wife tried to start their car early Wednesday morning, it didn’t work. They realized that their catalytic converter was stolen.
Police said that once another resident heard the commotion, he grabbed his gun and went outside where there was an exchange of gunfire.
“The victim explained that there was an exchange of gunfire, after which the subjects fled, entered an unknown vehicle and fled in that vehicle in an unknown direction,” said Martin.
The resident who fired those shots, Luis Vega, spoke to 7News.
“I wasn’t going to stand down. I shot back,” he said.
Vega said he also heard a noise outside his apartment.
“I go, ‘What the hell is going on?’ he said. “I can hear them, I can hear the power tools.”
What Vega heard was the commotion of catalytic converter con men who used power tools.
“I said, ‘Let me spook them.’ I didn’t expect for them to be armed,” Vega said.
From the Ring camera footage, one of the sunjects was seen holding what appeared to be a firearm. A gunshot was also heard.
“I scream, ‘Hey.’ They get spooked, they jump in the car that they had it parked right there, they take off,” Vega said, “but about halfway up the parking lot — there’s a little parking area on the right-hand side — they back up in there and get down and start coming on foot.”
Vega said the duo then came back down the sidewalk and started firing shots at him.
“I see him pulling out a gun and starts to point at me, and he cranks out two rounds,” he said.
Vega then grabbed his gun and began popping off shots at them.
“I returned fire, you know? I had no choice,” he said. “You’re not going to shoot at me and think you can get away with it.”
After fighting off the thieves, they got into their car and drove away.
But police do not recommend this method.
“We encourage you not to engage with the subjects. Please call the police,” Martin said.
When asked if he was afraid for his life, Vega said no.
His wife, on the other hand, had a different answer.
“I did, I did!” she said. “I almost had a heart attack!”
Vega now hopes those men become catalytic converter convicts.
“What message do I have for them? Don’t come and party in my neighborhood, because you’re not gonna be able to dance with me,” he said.
As police continue their investigation, preliminary reports indicated that no one was injured.
“It is not something that we as law enforcement are going to tolerate, and we will do what we need to do to address this concern for the citizens of Miami-Dade County,” Martin said.
If you have any information on this incident or the subjects’ whereabouts, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward of up to $5,000.
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