Francia Melendez let out a piercing scream after learning her partner of 6 years had been fatally shot by city of Hialeah police Saturday afternoon.
"If you have to do something like that please hit the people on the buttock, hit them on the feet--well take a cripple but we cannot bring back a dead body,” said Melendez, after calming down.
Police say they rushed to the Westland 49 Hialeah apartment complex to find a man holding up a flare gun--the type of gun boats use to signal for help.
The family of 48 year old Luiz Enrique Nunez say he had battled the demon of addiction for decades and tonight it had tragic consequences.
His sister told NBC Miami he may have been under the influence this afternoon. Somehow--the fire alarm in the building went off and he panicked.
Officers insist that they tried to use less lethal guns to calm him, but when Nunez fired the flare gun they say they had no choice.
"In an environment so close as a hallway that will kill you because that releases a projectile that is a solid ball of phosphorous and sulfur so if it hits somebody’s body it could theoretically burn through you," a police spokesman said.
So they fired back.
Family members say they pleaded with officers to allow them to speak with Nunez to calm him down.
"When you have someone who's armed and acting irrationally you cannot let somebody back in the scene. It’s very upsetting for the family but the reality is he may have ended up dead and she may have ended up dead.”
Though he had a troubled life--to his nieces he was just “Uncle Luis” --the man who taught them to drive.
"He cared about our family so much he was always a good uncle,” said Ana Martinez.
City of Hialeah police say an officer was injured by the flare gun--it shot him in the hand. He is expected to be OK.