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.
The chase with Antonio Feliu, 48, began at some point after authorities discovered Vivian Gallego Martinez, 51, and her daughter Anabel Benitez, 28, had been shot at 12341 SW 190th Street in South Miami Heights, authorities said. Martinez died at the scene, and Benitez was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Feliu once dated Martinez, police said. Miami-Dade Police spokesman Det. Alvaro Zabaleta said detectives are exploring the possibilty that Feliu may have been angry over a split between him and Martinez.
"How long ago did they break up? Was it recent? Was it awhile back? Was it on and off?" he said.
Authorities saw that the vehicle Feliu was driving matched the description of the car they were looking for in connection to the shootings and they chased him after he refused to stop.
The standoff with Feliu ended when law enforcement and three SWAT vehicles surrounded his Mercedes sports utility vehicle in a grassy field, where it had come to a stop after it crashed into another Mercedes in an intersection at Griffin Road and U.S. 27.
Both the SUV and the other car were heavily damaged in the crash. The other car's female driver, identified as Maritza Medina, 48, was ejected from the vehicle, Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said. A sheriff's sergeant and a police officer jumped into a marked unit and shielded her from the suspect's car. They pulled her to a safe area, where she was pronounced dead.
Israel called the sergeant who ran to get her body and pull her into his car "heroic."
As the standoff took place, paramedics were not allowed to go into the scene to retrieve Medina's body. Israel said they would never want to put them into harm’s way. He added that the Broward Sheriff's Office has trained paramedics on its SWAT team.
A group of deputies approached the suspect's SUV but immediately retreated, Israel said. They did so after hearing at least one shot fired, the BSO said.
More than an hour after the crash, SWAT officers moved in on the SUV and the standoff ended.
Feliu died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the BSO said.
"Unfortunately, we've had a very tragic and sad day today," Miami-Dade Police spokesman Det. Alvaro Zabaleta said.
Meanwhile, Benitez was rushed to Kendall Regional Trauma Center in critical condition but later died, authorities said.
Zabaleta said a witness was able to give police a description of the car that left the scene of the shooting and police spotted it a short time later.
Feliu fled north in the SUV and was seen speeding and weaving in and out of traffic as he was chased all the way to Griffin Road and U.S. 27.
After the crash, both vehicles skidded to a stop in the grassy field and officers were seen approaching the vehicle with weapons drawn before backing away. Vehicle parts were strewn across the field.
Streets in the area were closed as dozens of officers responded to the scene. Israel said four SWAT teams were involved, from the BSO and the Davie, Miami-Dade and Pembroke Pines police departments.
“It’s tragic. Our hearts go out to the people in Dade County that go hurt. Our hearts go out to her and her family and their families. It’s just a tragic incident from beginning to end,” he said about the woman driver who was killed in the crash.
A photograph of Anabel Benitez (right), her mother Vivian Gallego Martinez (middle), and Maritza Medina (left).
Jonathan Ortiz, who works in the west Broward area, said he saw the suspect's vehicle speed by just before the crash.
"I saw a vehicle, a black Mercedes-Benz, he was going an excessive speed, I'm guessing they collided with another vehicle up there," Ortiz said. "We just saw this car speed by, we said 'oh my God, this is crazy.'"
Miami-Dade Police closed off the street at the scene of the earlier shooting as crime scene investigators focused on the home where the shooting happened.
"The preliminary evidence that they do have is indicating that this could possibly be domestic related," Zabaleta said earlier Wednesday.
Ana de Armas said she's been living next door for 50 years, and Wednesday was "the first time I have (ever) seen something going on in this property."
But another neighbor, who goes by the name of Diva, said something different.
"Sometimes the police is there. I never heard anything. It was quiet but I saw police officers here a few times, but other than that, no arrests, no arguments, just quiet," she said.