A Miami-Dade Police officer who was injured in a shootout that left one suspect dead was out of surgery and in stable condition Wednesday as authorities continued to investigate the incident.
The incident began when Miami-Dade detectives working with special agents with the FBI were conducting a drug investigation at a home in the 6000 block of Southwest 22nd Street Tuesday night.
Police say the officers and agents were ambushed by a gunman who jumped out of a car and opened fire. The officers and suspect exchanged gunfire and when the smoke cleared, the detective and suspect were both shot multiple times, police said.
The detective, identified as 34-year-old John Saavedra, was airlifted to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital with gunshot wounds to his abdomen. The suspect, identified as 56-year-old Gerardo Delgado, died shortly after the shootout, police said.
Delgado's son, also named Gerardo Delgado, briefly spoke with NBC 6 Wednesday, saying his father "was a good man."
He said his father was out to defend the family's property when police shot him.
“What happened was a strange man was lurking around and my father came out to protect his property and the strange man turned out to be the police officer that murdered him on the spot," Delgado Jr. said.
But police said that after they approached another man, 59-year-old Luis Lazaro Estevanell, the elder Delgado came out of a car shooting at federal agents and their officers in the driveway.
Lazaro Estevanell was taken into custody and is facing second-degree felony murder, marijuana trafficking, cocaine possession and possession of a place used to manufacture a controlled substance charges. He was being held without bond Wednesday.
Police said they clearly identified themselves and wore prominent insignia.
"Our officers were wearing police insignia. That clearly identified them as police officers. There was also a marked green and white police vehicle on the scene as well," said Miami-Dade Police spokeswoman Lt. Rosanna Cordero-Stutz.
Authorities said that the home was being used as a place to grow marijuana and that a task force went there as part of an anti-drug operation.
"The officers were essentially ambushed. They had no idea this individual had been hidden in this car on the property," Cordero-Stutz said.
Police said Saavedra is a 10-year veteran who now works undercover in the Narcotics Unit, and was named Officer of the Year by the PBA in 2007. In 2004 he was involved in another police-involved shooting.
"It is absolutely miraculous that we're still here talking about him. He went through surgery. He's recovering at the hospital and we're very grateful for that," Cordero-Stutz said.
Officers were still at the scene Wednesday morning and were seen removing marijuana from the home. Police recovered 80 pounds of marijuana growing inside the house, and they said hydroponic growing operations are spreading all over South Florida
"I think it's important for the community to be aware this is going on in residential neighborhoods. It could be your neighbor's house and with these hydroponic labs come guns and come violence," Cordero-Stutz said.
Delgado Jr. had no comment on the drug allegations made by police.
The wife of Delgado Sr. was visibly upset when showing a photo of her husband. They ran a company called Diamond Vision Design.
“And now my godfather, his best friend, is the one that’s being charged with my father's murder. Just because of the way the law is set up," Delgado Jr. said.
The incident is still being investigated, police said.
Neighbors on Wednesday recalled hearing the shots ring out.
"I was scared," said Sonia Sanchez, who lives on the block and said she cowered in her home when she heard bullets fly. "Terrible!"