An attempted jewelry store robbery that led to the theft of a UPS truck, a hostage situation and a police shootout that ultimately left two “innocent civilians,” including a UPS driver, dead has shaken the Florida community to its core.
UPS identified the driver as Frank Ordonez, according to a statement obtained by ABC News on Friday.
He’d had worked with the company since July 2016, first as a package handler and then as a service provider, also known as a driver.
“We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends and the other innocent victims involved in this incident,” UPS said in the statement.
The incident started around 4:15 p.m. local time when two men attempted to rob Regent Jewelers in Coral Gables, authorities said. After shots were fired, the suspects carjacked the UPS truck, held the driver, Ordonez, hostage and led police on a high-speed pursuit before engaging in a shootout.
The two suspects, identified by the FBI as Lamar Alexander, 41, and Ronnie Jerome Hill, 41, both of Miami-Dade County, were killed in the shootout, FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro told reporters.
Two “innocent civilians,” Ordonez and a bystander, were killed amid gunfire, Piro said. Family members told ABC News that Richard Cutshaw, a 70-year-old union representative, was the bystander shot and killed.
It’s not yet clear whether the two died from gunfire by law enforcement or the suspects.
Alex Melo, a witness, told ABC News he has been “nervous beyond belief” since seeing the incident unfold.
“You have chills in your body seeing the scene. … It’s not something, an ordeal, you live through on a daily basis,” Melo said Friday morning.
Melo was in a car with Sheila Cabrera when the two said they were stuck in an intersection of the highway in Miramar as the shootout erupted during rush hour Thursday afternoon.
As the shootout broke out, Cabrera said she and Melo “could not move” from their car.
“Next thing you know, we were in the middle of it all,” she told ABC News. “All I could think of was a stray bullet coming towards us.”
She described seeing “a river of police” flooding the highway in pursuit of the UPS truck.
Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam called the deadly incident an “unprecedented event that took place in our quiet community.”
Messam said authorities are still gathering information, with the FBI taking the lead in the case and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement also investigating.
Joe Merino, the stepfather of Ordonez, told ABC News the family is looking for answers as to exactly what happened and condemned what he called “excessive force” by the police.
“Officers are here to serve and protect. Well, where was the protection offered of my son? Where was his protection?” Merino said. “He was a victim. He was a hostage.”
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He called Ordonez’s death “avoidable.”
“It could’ve been handled differently,” Merino said.
Ordonez leaves behind two daughters, ages 3 and 5. Cutshaw leaves behind his 99-year-old mother and five brothers and sisters.
ABC News’ Jim Vojtech, Will Gretsky, Justin Doom and Karma Allen contributed to this report.
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