Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies mistakenly shot at a plainclothed detective as they pursued a suspect in a West Park mobile home park, authorities said Tuesday.
Deputies just didn't realize that Hallandale Beach Police Det. Anthony DeStefano was a law enforcement officer, Sheriff Scott Israel said.
"The only one in plainclothes was Officer DeStefano, everyone else was in uniform," Israel explained about the incident at the Holiday Mobile Estates at 3140 West Hallandale Beach Blvd. in Pembroke Park.
Officers pursued suspect Jayson Kalinowski, 31, south on Interstate 95 to Hallandale Beach Boulevard, then west to the mobile home park.
Bullets fired there struck a tree, the back corner of a car, a window – and hit Juan Banega’s mobile home. Banega said a bullet crashed through his wall and whizzed by his head as he watched television.
"Yeah, I was on my couch, I seen the bullet and it coming behind me, behind, my head," he said in broken English.
Banega said the bullet went through his kitchen and stopped in the bathroom. He's lucky he wasn't hit. So is DeStefano.
The bullets that pockmarked the trailer park were friendly fire, shot by two deputies. DeStefano assisted the BSO Monday in trying to catch Kalinowski, who was apprehended in the trailer park. The sheriff said that it's "a good possibility" that the deputies thought DeStefano was Kalinowski, the man they were trying to catch.
"The deputies had never seen him before, he was in plainclothes, he had a firearm, that's not to say that anybody did anything incorrectly but the deputies fired shots and here's where we're at," Israel said.
Hallandale Beach Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy said Det. DeStefano ultimately was able to get the message out to the deputies that he was a cop and to stop shooting. But neither the chief nor the sheriff would say much more, except that everything about Monday’s event is being investigated.
The chief said there's a happy bottom line.
"We took a dangerous person off the streets and Det. DeStefano had the opportunity to go home and hug his kids," Flournoy said.
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