MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A suspect has died after an alleged car theft ended in gunfire and the SUV crashing into a Miami Beach building.
According to detectives, the ordeal began when a man tried stealing a Mercedes G-Wagen from a car wash near the 1200 block of 18th Street, at around 10 a.m., Tuesday.
“We received a 911 call indicating there was a shooting,” Miami Beach Police Officer Ernesto Rodriguez said. “The owner or driver of that vehicle sees him doing that and discharges his firearm at that vehicle.”
The accused car thief then crashed into an Office Depot across the street. A hole in the side of the building remains under repair, Wednesday afternoon.
7News received video of the car owner, later identified as 48-year-old Stephen Lott, surrounded by officers with their guns drawn shortly after the gunshots rang out.
“You know who I am. I am not a threat,” Lott is heard telling officers as he lay on the ground with his arms straight out.
Curious pedestrians in the area were seen in the video being instructed by police to stay away.
“Get back! You guys don’t wanna get shot! Get back!” an officer is heard shouting at bystanders.
After officers tried to make contact with the person in the car for over an hour, they eventually moved in, smashed the windows and opened the driver’s side door.
7Skyforce HD hovered overhead as officers with long guns slowly approached the vehicle. One officer could be seen holding a ballistic shield.
“Driver, there is no place for you to go. We need you to step out of the car,” an officer said over a loud speaker.
He was then placed on a stretcher and rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center with a gunshot wound. However, police confirmed he died from his injuries just before 1 p.m.
“He is currently in route to JMH Ryder Trauma after suffering at least one gunshot wound,” said Rodriguez. “We have the shooter in this case currently being interviewed by detectives, and we have that firearm recovered. A lot of pieces that we still need to piece together, very preliminary investigation. We have a lot of streets closed off.”
7News cameras captured Lott leaving the Miami Beach Police Department with his attorney.
The attorney said he believes the investigation will reveal that the shooting was justified.
“We’re still trying to gather the facts,” attorney Michael Grieco said. “He’s not been charged. The Miami Beach Police Department and the State Attorney’s Office are going to investigate.”
Residents in the area were warned to stay indoors.
“They said, ‘Get out of the way. There’s a guy with a gun,'” a bystander said.
Police said they will wait to see if the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office will file charges after the evidence is reviewed.
The deceased has yet to be identified by police.
“I want to remind everybody here that the person who passed away was stealing a car,” Grieco said. “From what I gather, he was trying to run over people. The shooting was justified, and we’re hoping that the State Attorney’s Office and law enforcement in general makes that determination as well.”
Police continued to investigate at the scene into Tuesday night with 3D forensic imaging to help recreate the theft and shooting. Surveillance video was also reviewed by investigators.
The SUV was eventually pulled out of the building and towed away, Tuesday night.
Power in the Office Depot remains out because, officials said, the suspected thief hit the electrical room. They hope to have business back up and running within the next day or two.
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