A routine traffic stop led to an early morning shootout at multiple locations throughout northeast Miami after a cab driver commandeered a police squad car, shot at officers and injured two innocent bystanders before being shot by police Tuesday morning.
Miami Police say a cab driver got into some sort of a dispute early Tuesday at a garage on 79th Street in northeast Miami and began shooting with an assault rifle as he took off in his taxi.
It is unclear who the cab driver was aiming for or what started the scuffle.
A passing officer stopped the cab for speeding just before 9 a.m. near Fourth Avenue and Northeast 79th Street in Miami-Dade.
The cab driver stopped, then hopped out of the cab and began shooting at the officer with the assault rifle before jumping into the squad car and speeding away, officials said. As police gave chase to the stolen squad car, the suspect continued shooting at officers.
According to a release by the Fraternal Order of Police, the officers returned fire and a person who was standing nearby assisted in providing cover for the officers.
As the chaotic chase continued, a woman standing nearby was shot and wounded at Northeast 15th Avenue and Northeast 125th Street in North Miami.
The woman was transported to the hospital and is expected to be okay.
Another bystander was also shot amid the chaos. That person was wounded, but is also expected to be okay, police say.
Police were eventually able to stop the cab in the area of Northeast 117th Road and San Souci Boulevard. There was some gunfire exchanged at that location. Officers shot the cab driver, who was then taken to Ryder Trauma Center.
The suspect was later identified as 29-year-old Frantzy Armand. Police said he'll face a charge of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.
Witnesses described chaos as the pursuit and gun battle exploded on the streets.
"I just thank God that we're alive because we could've got shot," said Rachel Ambroise, who was near an elementary school with her young son. "I didn't see where the bullets were coming from but I heard them, ricocheting off the school signs...they were very close to us, and as we were running, all the parents were terrified, just trying to take cover."
Ambroise said she clutched her 7-year-old son's hand and urged him to run faster.
"And as we're running we're looking back, making sure we're not getting shot, our children haven't fallen on the floor or anything like that," she said. "So when we got near the school, the principal said 'I heard it too' and he started telling the children 'run inside the school, get inside the classroom, everybody, let's go, let's go, let's go,' so it was pretty much a military drill, you know, it was scary, I felt like I was in a movie."
Witness Mike Ayerdi said the officer who was shot at is lucky to be alive.
"He's very lucky, he's very lucky. As a matter of fact, anyone that was standing on the street is very lucky to survive," he said. "You could hear the bullets hitting behind your head."
Motorists were advised to avoid the area as several roads near each of the scenes were shut down for several hours as police investigated.
The names of those involved have not been released.