Victim of Miami carjacking describes frightening encounter

MIAMI (WSVN) - A woman who had her car stolen by a man fleeing police in Miami, Friday morning, is now telling the story of her fearful encounter.

Minerva Castellano broke down as she described the moment a man pointed a gun right at her face, just before 8 a.m. “There was traffic in front of me at a stop light. All I saw was the guy come to my window and point a gun at me, and he just yelled, ‘Get out the car. Get out the F-ing car. Get out the car!'” she said.

Castellano, her hands still shaking as she narrated the traumatizing ordeal, said she was on her way to work at the Miami VA Hospital when she stopped at a light at the intersection of Northwest 21st Street and 14th Avenue. “I was kind of shocked, so I wasn’t moving, so he opens my door, and he says, ‘Get out the freaking car, or I will shoot you,'” she said.

7Skyforce HD captured the moment where the suspect opened her door and demanded that she exit her car.

The victim said she initially didn’t know what was going on. “I literally thought he was an undercover cop, ’cause I saw cops all over the place, just all over the place, and I thought they needed my car for some unknown reason,” said Castellano.

She said she tried to unfasten her seat belt as fast as she could. “I tried to take my seat belt off. I had to put the car in park, and he’s putting his leg on my foot, trying to stop the car and yanking me out and got in the car and just took off,” said Castellano.

The victim, who was not injured, then called her husband, Victor Rodriguez, as well as her co-worker. “She called me, and I just got out of the shower, and she said, ‘I’ve just been carjacked,'” he said.

Rodriguez then turned on 7News and watched the terrifying scene play out. I see her. I see it happening, so I feel helpless,” he said.

According to investigators, the subject was on the run from police and had first ditched the first carjacked BMW SUV at the intersection where Castellano had stopped. He then ran directly to the black Mazda she was driving and forced her out of the vehicle.

Officials said the gunman was later killed after a standoff ended in a police-involved shooting.

Castellano said it wasn’t until an officer approached her that she realized she had been carjacked. “An officer comes and says, ‘You remember what he looked like?’ And I said, ‘What are you talking about?'” she said. “He said, ‘We’re looking for him,’ or, ‘We’re after that guy.’ That’s when I broke down. That’s when I got crazy nervous.”

Hours later, a police presence could still be seen where Castellano had the Mazda stolen.

“It could have been any of us, so I’m just so thankful that she’s OK. That’s the most important thing,” her coworker said. “A car is replaceable, but your life is not replaceable.”

Castellano spent the majority of Friday morning at the scene answering detectives’ questions and reuniting with her husband and co-workers. “I’m sure that he wasn’t going to go down without a fight, and I’m really lucky and blessed, because he could’ve killed me, too, and taken me down with him,” she said.

The Mazda she was driving was actually a loaner car while her own vehicle was in the shop.

However, while she was speaking with 7News, the mechanic called and let her know that her actual vehicle was ready for pickup.

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