MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On December 10, more than two dozen police officers from across Miami Dade County converged on a blue Volvo that had crashed in the backyard of a townhouse on 65th Street just off 27th Avenue.
As the car was wedged helplessly between a light pole and a tree, nearly a minute passed before officers opened up – firing approximately 50 bullets at the car and the two unarmed men inside the vehicle.
The two men inside the car survived that initial volley of gunfire, according to witnesses, who said they could see the men moving inside the Volvo. Everything went quiet for nearly two minutes before the officers opened up a second time – unleashing an unrelenting torrent of bullets that lasted almost 25 seconds. By the time it was over, the two men inside the car were dead.
CBS4 News has learned a total of 23 officers fired a total of at least 377 rounds.
Bullets were sprayed everywhere. They hit the Volvo, other cars in the lot, fence posts and neighboring businesses. They blasted holes in a townhouse where a 12-year-old dove to the ground for cover and a four month old slept in his crib.
“It was like the Wild Wild West, man, crazy,” said Anthony Vandiver, who barely made it through the back door of his home before the gunfire erupted. “Shooting just wild; shooting all over the place. Bullets could have come through the window. Anything could have happened man. They weren’t thinking, they weren’t thinking at all.”
Earlier that night, the driver of the Volvo, Adrian Montesano, robbed a Walgreens at gunpoint, and then later shot Miami Dade Police Officer Saul Rodriguez in a nearby trailer park.
Montesano escaped in the officer’s patrol car eventually dumping it at his grandmother’s house in Hialeah – before fleeing in her blue Volvo
By 5 am every cop in South Florida was looking for that blue Volvo – intent on catching the man who had shot one of their own.
But what police didn’t realize before they started shooting at the Volvo is there was a second man in the car – Corsini Valdes – who had committed no crime.
And in fact, as CBS4 News was the first to report, both men inside the Volvo were unarmed at the time police caught up with them. All of the gunfire came from police.
Montesano and Valdes were killed by the dozens of rounds that tore through their bodies.
But Montesano and Valdes weren’t the only ones struck – two Miami Dade police officers were hit as well – caught in the crossfire. One officer was shot in the arm and the second was hit in the arm and grazed in the head. If the bullet had struck just a half an inch to the side the officer would have been killed.
The sound of the gunfire was deafening – literally deafening. Two Miami police officers sustained ruptured ear drums from the cacophony of shots.
CBS4 News has spent the last five months piecing together the events of that evening and the hunt for the blue Volvo. CBS4 News reviewed radio transmissions, analyzed video taken during the shooting, interviewed officials from the different agencies involved, and reviewed records related to the officers who fired their weapons.
The nature of the shooting suggests the officers lost sight of their own training and that the officers, caught up in the heat of the moment, failed to listen to their radios or coordinate their actions endangering not only their own lives but the lives of the public.
It is worth saying, none of this would have happened if Adrian Montesano had not made the decision to rob the Walgreens and shoot a police officer. None of those officers would have been in that backyard if it weren’t for the actions of Montesano. But that does not absolve the officers of responsibility for their own conduct, as well.
Senior commanders admit they are very lucky more officers weren’t seriously hurt or killed. Even more haunting is the danger the residents in the area faced. At the time of the shooting, parents were getting their kids ready for school and across the street men and women stood exposed on a Metrorail platform.
The shooting is being reviewed by both the State Attorney’s Office and the Miami Dade Police Department.
While those reviews will likely take years to complete, what is clear is the Walgreens robbery and the shooting of Officer Rodriguez sent officers across the county into a state of frenzy.