Miami – Armed robbers hijacked a UPS truck in Coral Gables, leading police cars on a harrowing chase up Interstate 75 that ended Thursday night in a dramatic shootout on a busy street in Miramar.
Police bullets struck men inside the UPS truck – but it was unclear if the suspected UPS driver taken hostage was struck. Miramar police said there “multiple fatalities,” but no police officers were hurt.
The dramatic hostage-taking, chase and shooting was broadcast live by TV news helicopters.
Footage showed a terrifying scene at the peak of rush hour, as the UPS truck slowed to a stop on Miramar Parkway near Flamingo Road in the midst of a cluster of stopped cars shortly after 5:30 p.m. News cameras zoomed in on the passenger side of the truck, and showed the small bursts of light and smoke indicating gunfire.
Several flashes followed as a man’s leg became visible from the door, followed by another man climbing over him, an arm over his head for protection amid the chaos.
Another view from the other side of the van showed cops rushing in. Soon, more than 20 officers had descended on men lying next to the vehicle. Large smears of blood were visible on the roadway as police, and soon paramedics, rushed into help the wounded.
No officers were hurt, one law enforcement source told the Miami Herald.
Police say the incident began Thursday at 4:17 p.m. in Coral Gables, when at least two men tried robbing Regent Jeweler’s. Officers, alerted by a silent alarm, rushed to the scene within minutes.
Shots were fired at the jewelry store across from Coral Gables City Hall. Vince Lago, vice mayor of Coral Gables, said he was told by city staff that shots were fired as part of an attempted robbery at the nearby jewelry store.
A law enforcement source told the Herald that a robber fired into the floor and the bullet ricocheted, hitting a female employee of the store in the forehead.
“A bullet actually went through the window of the city clerk’s office,” Lago said.
“The individuals abducted the driver of the truck as well as the truck itself,” Coral Gables Chief Edward Hudak said.
The UPS truck was carjacked soon after. Police officers soon found the UPS truck, which made its way up the Florida Turnpike, then Okeechobee Road, then onto Interstate 75 into Broward County. The robbers apparently shot at cops during the chase.
The van exited in Pembroke Pines and weaved its way through the streets _ at one point breaking through a traffic arm into the Century Village community – all while followed by a long stream of police cars.
After the shooting, paramedics rushed to treat the injured men. WSVN-Channel 7 reported that at least one person was being airlifted to a trauma center.
Law enforcement authorities in two counties were scrambling Thursday night to figure out what happened. So was UPS, which is in the middle of the busy holiday gift-delivery season.
“We are trying to learn about the status of our personnel and are concerned about their safety,” a UPS spokesman said in a statement. “We appreciate law enforcement’s service and will cooperate with them to bring the individuals to justice who put our people in harm’s way.”