Police Officer Who Shielded Deadly Chase Crash Victim Wishes He Could Have Done More

Three officers worked together to pull Maritza Medina from a west Broward crash site amid a SWAT standoff, but she was pronounced dead afterward

By Willard Shepard
|  Thursday, Sep 19, 2013  |  Updated 8:56 PM EDT
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The three law enforcement officers who went into harm’s way to help a west Broward crash victim amid a standoff with a shooting suspect said Thursday it’s a moment they won’t forget. Miami-Dade Police Officer John Dweck, Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. John Kelly and BSO Deputy John Rodriguez spoke about their efforts to help Maritza Medina.

The three law enforcement officers who went into harm’s way to help a west Broward crash victim amid a standoff with a shooting suspect said Thursday it’s a moment they won’t forget. Miami-Dade Police Officer John Dweck, Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. John Kelly and BSO Deputy John Rodriguez spoke about their efforts to help Maritza Medina.

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The three law enforcement officers who went into harm’s way to help a west Broward crash victim amid a standoff with a shooting suspect said Thursday it’s a moment they won’t forget.

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Deputies Were Driving Safely During Pursuit: Sheriff

A shooting suspect and three others are dead after a high-speed chase through two counties ended in a deadly crash and standoff in west Broward Wednesday morning. Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said he is confident BSO deputies’ pursuit of Antonio Feliu did not endanger pedestrians or other drivers, and said deputies were driving safely.

Shooting Suspect Antonio Feliu May Have Been Angry Over Split With Woman: Police

Antonio Feliu, who fatally shot Vivian Gallego Martinez and her daughter Anibel Benitez in their South Miami Heights home, once dated Martinez, police said. Detectives are exploring the possibility he may have been angry over a split with Martinez, Miami-Dade Police spokesman Det. Alvaro Zabaleta said. Neighbors Raul Concepcion and Clinton Woodson also spoke about the case.
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“We do our best. We wish we could have done more. It was a very sad day yesterday,” said Miami-Dade Police Officer John Dweck, who worked with Broward Sheriff’s Office Sgt. John Kelly and BSO Deputy John Rodriguez to remove Maritza Medina, 48, from the crash site amid a standoff with Antonio Feliu on Wednesday. “Very sad that there are three families mourning and my thoughts and prayers are with their families.”

He was referring to Medina and the two women that Feliu, 48, fatally shot in South Miami Heights Wednesday morning before police spotted his vehicle and a chase ensued after he refused to stop, according to police. Feliu drove north, speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, before his Mercedes SUV violently collided with Medina’s Mercedes at the intersection of Griffin Road and U.S. 27.

Medina was ejected from her car. Deputies and officers approached Feliu’s SUV but retreated after they heard at least one shot fired, the BSO said.

As a SWAT standoff with Feliu took place, paramedics were not allowed to approach Medina.

"They had advised on the radio that shots were fired. We all knew that it was still a very active scene and that's really why the EMS wasn't there," Kelly said.

So the three officers came up with a plan where Dweck put his car between the suspect's SUV and he and Medina went to get her. Kelly aided him and Dweck was able to give Medina CPR. Rodriguez was ready to provide cover fire if needed.

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“We were all thinking about the same thing here,” Rodriguez said. “Number one was to try and get that woman Ms. Medina out of harm’s way. She was so close to the suspect's vehicle, there weren't too many choices for us.”

The officers were able to get Medina out of the area and drove her to a team of paramedics nearby, but she was pronounced dead.

“I feel extremely very sorry and very sad,” Dweck said of her death. “Like right now I feel it in my heart. It’s almost like it was one of my own family members.”

Medina's funeral will be held this weekend at the Caballero Rivero Woodlawn at 11655 SW 117th Ave. in Miami. The visitation will be on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 12 a.m., with the funeral at 11 a.m. on Sunday.

Wednesday's standoff ended when authorities discovered that Feliu had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Before the chase and crash, Vivian Gallego Martinez, 51, and her daughter Anabel Benitez, 28, were found shot at their home at 12341 Southwest 190th Street, police said. Martinez died at the scene, and Benitez was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The dark Mercedes SUV matched the description of the car police were looking for in connection to the shootings, police said, but Feliu fled north.

Feliu once dated Martinez and detectives are exploring the possibility that he may have been angry over a split between him and Martinez, Miami-Dade Police said.

Police said Thursday that narcotics investigators found 43 marijuana plants in Feliu's home at 2020 Southwest 100th Ave. The plants, worth about $107,500, were found in a "fully operational hydroponics laboratory" there, according to police.

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