A Miami Gardens police officer is expected to be okay after police said he was "ambushed" by a gunman in South Florida early Friday morning.
Chief Antonio Brooklen of Miami Gardens Police identified the victim as Officer David Starling, an eight-year veteran of the Miami Gardens Police Department.
Starling was parked in a shopping center and completing an accident report just before 8:30 a.m. at Northwest 183rd Street and Northwest 7th Avenue. That's when police said a gunman, not involved in the accident, drove by, made eye contact with Starling, backed up and opened fire.
Brooklen said Starling took cover, but was struck once in the lower extremities. Starling got on the radio and alerted officers that the suspect was headed westbound in a vehicle on Miami Gardens Drive.
The alleged gunman has been identified as 24-year-old David Andres Mejia of Avenura.
As Mejia approached Northwest 20th Avenue, Brooklen said he leaned out of his car and began shooting at officers who were chasing him. Police said Mejia shot again at officers as he approached Northwest 27th Avenue.
Mejia crashed his car in the area of Northwest 183rd Street and Northwest 32nd Avenue, and attempted to escape on foot, police said. He was apprehended a short time later in the yard of a house. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.
Officers did not discharge their weapons, Brooklen said.
In a press conference, Brooklen commended the collaborative work between Miami Gardens, Miami-assassinatether departments in order to apprehend the suspect, adding that the violence must stop.
"If you have that much hate and aggression to attempt to assassinate a police officer who is paid to protect and serve, there is no justification for it. None whatsoever," Brooklen said. "The violence against police officers in this country must stop, the violence against children must stop, the violence against our community must stop. No one is exempt from violence. We suffer as a community, we can overcome this as a community."
Starling was taken to a local hospital and has been upgraded to good condition. He is expected to make a full recovery.
Mejia faces five charges of attempted murder of a police officer, aggravated fleeing, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, among others.
Police said the shooting appears to be the act of an individual attempting to do harm to a police officer, and there is no indication or nexus to terrorism.
The FBI is also assisting in the investigation and released the following statement:
"The FBI has offered assistance to the Miami Gardens Police Department (MGPD) in the investigation of the shooting of one of their officers this morning. MGPD is the lead agency and therefore all information regarding this matter will have to come from them."
The circumstances of this case are strikingly similar to a tragedy that happened 26 years ago. Broward Sheriff's Office Deputy Patrick Behan was murdered while he sat in his car at a gas station.
"I knew it very well and that's the same thing. This officer was writing a report, much like Officer Behan was doing, and he just got ambushed," said John Rivera, president of the Miami-Dade Police Union.