The BSO on Friday identified Andrew Thomas, 23, of Miramar as the suspect who was fatally shot by deputies at a Pembroke Pines Allstate office Thursday.
BSO detectives had learned that Thomas planned on robbing the insurance office at 1462 S. Palm Ave., so deputies cleared out the office and surrounding businesses and were waiting for the masked gunman when he arrived there Thursday afternoon, according to the BSO.
He didn’t comply with deputies’ orders, and they felt forced to fire at Thomas, the BSO said in a statement. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Nine children and their instructor were inside the Twin Dragons martial arts studio next door when sheriff’s deputies suddenly burst in Thursday.
"They were blocking everything, and you know, SWAT team was here, you know, seven of them came storming in, it's not like one person storm in," studio owner Hafida Wilmot said. She says it was such a shock, she didn't realize at first that they were police officers.
"Well, we didn't know until they started pushing and I'm like, hold on you can't come in, I have kids in there,” she said.
The Allstate business was boarded up Friday after bullets shattered the glass.
"The suspect had indicated that he would kill people that were in the business if he had to," Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said Thursday.
He said an informant told detectives that Thomas was intent on robbing the office.
"When you know that is gonna happen, inform me, that way I wouldn't have been here with the kids," Wilmot complained Friday.
The kids at her martial arts studio were cowering in the back and heard the gunshots.
"And we hear popping noise and then the commotion inside, banging, the kids hear all that and hearing the gunshots, and then they tell us the suspect is down, down, down, and then they go, they don't let us come out," Wilmot said.
She said the children, ages 5 through 14, handled it all well and seemed totally fine on Friday.
It’s unknown why Thomas targeted the insurance business, the BSO said.
He has a long arrest record, Israel said.
In line with BSO policy, homicide detectives are investigating the circumstances of the shooting. The agency said Friday that deputies Gerardo Lopez, 40, Carlos Gomez, 32, and Jason Rotella, 40, have been placed on administrative assignment pending the outcome of the investigation.
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