Broward

Family of UPS Driver Killed After Cross County Chase Angry, Seeking Answers

Frank Ordonez's stepfather, Joe Merino, said he was watching the pursuit on television with other family members and didn't realize his son was in the truck.

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As officers continue to investigate the scene of the deadly shooting that took over two counties, the family of the UPS driver who was killed during the incident is speaking out and frustrated at what took place.

Family members identified the driver as 27-year-old Frank Ordonez, of Hialeah. Ordonez's stepfather, Joe Merino, said he was watching the pursuit on television with other family members and didn't realize his son was in the truck.

"It was hard for me to swallow, a real hard pill to swallow," Merino said in an interview with NBC News. "When my 15-year-old saw it, she collapsed."

Merino said his son normally works a route in Coconut Grove and it was his first day working by himself on the route in Coral Gables. Hours after the deadly incident, he spoke about the suspects who abducted his son, the father of two young girls.

"I understand they're both dead, they were shot dead, and I'm not a violent person, I'm a rational person, I reason things out, but from one human being to another, I'm glad they're dead," he said.

Ordonez’s sister posted a message on social media expressing frustration with the police response to the incident – with reports saying over 200 shots were exchanged during the frantic moments after the suspects opened fire.

"They killed him, that's what I saw," Merino said. "He was crawling down the side of a package truck and the suspect was in front of him and you have officers from different departments shooting recklessly at the suspect not even thinking there’s a hostage behind him."

Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez told NBC 6 that officers tried to save Ordonez and any civilians nearby during the chase.

"The officers tried to corral the vehicle, get it slowed down so they could stop the truck there, and they were met with gunfire," Perez said.

Merino said he had a lot of questions about the way police handled the situation.

"Where's SWAT? Where's the hostage negotiator?" he said. They came in with full force. They came to kill the suspect."

Perez said the negotiating teams were en route.

"Ideally, if they would have stuck their hands out, ideally they wouldn’t have pointed the guns and shot at the officers, we could have started negotiation," Perez said. "We had the resources going up to begin negotiations, we had our SWAT team going up there."

A retired Broward Sheriff's Office supervisor described the situation as a terrible catch-22 for police.

"You’re doing everything you can to avoid any type of confrontation in populated areas, but as we see in this scenario, it just couldn’t be avoided," Jack Dale said. "If they don’t approach the truck, potentially the suspects get out, they take another vehicle and they take more hostages. Or continue to fire and kill other innocent civilians. It's not a scenario where there’s time to de-escalate or to negotiate in any way and retreating or backing off really isn’t an option."

It's going to be weeks before the Broward Medical Examiner determines whose bullets actually killed the UPS driver.

“I still can’t believe it,” Merino said. “I feel like I’m in a dream and I’m going to wake up and he’s going to be here.”

Merino said he wants to be the voice for Ordonez, while helping to explain to his daughters what happened to their dad with four heartbreaking words.

“Frank’s not coming back,” he said.

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