A pair of armed robbers and two others, including the driver of a hijacked UPS truck, were killed in an exchange of gunfire with South Florida police officers after the suspects on Thursday led authorities on a high-speed chase.
The robbers held up a jewelry store before commandeering the UPS truck and holding its driver hostage, according to Coral Gables Police. After fleeing the scene and evading police for dozens of miles, the truck stopped in the middle of rush hour traffic as dozens of armed officers surrounded it.
In addition to the suspects and the driver, a female bystander was also killed in the crossfire. No further details regarding her death and identity have been provided.
"There was exchanged fire between law enforcement and the suspects and unfortunately the suspects are now deceased," George Piro, the special agent in charge of the F.B.I.'s Miami office, said. "But two additional innocent civilians were also deceased."
DEVELOPING: Miramar police confirm multiple fatalities in this officer involved shooting after a UPS truck was stolen. This was crazy to watch live, viewer discretion advised. pic.twitter.com/lU2Ah1Q9I5— Shayne Wright (@swrightwpbf) December 5, 2019
The UPS employee taken hostage was killed in the ensuing shootout. His name was not publicly released, but family members confirmed his death to local news outlets.
"We are deeply saddened to learn a UPS service provider was a victim of this senseless act of violence," the package delivery company said in a statement. "We extend our condolences to the family and friends of our employee and the other innocent victims involved in the incident. We appreciate law enforcement's service and will cooperate with the authorities as they continue the investigation."
The incident quickly sparked criticism of law enforcement's handling of the situation.
This hurts my heart so bad. They seemed to have killed an innocent UPS driver. Why in the world are you shooting up the whole vehicle on both sides if you know there’s a hostage inside!? https://t.co/fJReapstSY— Ameen (@Ameen_HGA) December 6, 2019
Former Department of Housing and Urban Development official Brandon Friedman described the shootout as "appalling." He said the department should be held accountable for "choosing to assault the vehicle in the middle of stopped rush hour traffic" and using occupied vehicles as "human shields."
The Coral Gables Police Department declined to comment and the F.B.I. has not responded to NPR's inquiries.
Paolo Zialcita is an intern on NPR's News Desk.