New details have emerged in the shooting last December of two men in Miami Dade County. Police were looking for Adrian Montesano, 27, who had shot a police officer after robbing a Walgreens at gunpoint. They spotted him in a car with another man and gave chase. The Blue Volvo crashed and was wedged between a light pole and a tree. Police surrounded the vehicle and then opened fire — hitting the car with some 50 bullets. There was then another period of quiet and the men were told to surrender. Some witnesses say that the wounded men were raising their hands. Police say that they saw movement and unleashed a barrage of bullets. In all, some 377 rounds were fired — hitting other cars, businesses, and a home with children inside. Some are calling this a case of a police “frenzy” where the officers lost control in two rounds of massive shooting.
Montesano shot Miami Dade Police Officer Saul Rodriguez in a nearby trailer park after robbing the Walgreens. He then escaped in the officer’s car and dumped it at his grandmother’s house in Hialeah. A massive search was launched after the shooting of the officer and he was eventually spotted in the blue Volvo. In the car was Corsini Valdes (right), 52, who was not accused of a crime though he is referred to as an accomplice in some stories. Some reports indicate that Montesano had an addiction and that would explain his unplanned and bizarre conduct, including using (and abandoning) his air conditioning repair truck with his name on it at the scene.
There is no question that Montesano was legitimately viewed as armed and dangerous and that police had reason to fear giving him any additional opportunity to use his weapon. He had taken a hostage at the store before shooting the officer.
The barrage was so extensive and two Miami Dade officers were also hit by their own colleagues. One was shot in the arm and one grazed in the head. Families threw themselves to the floor as bullets threw in every direction. Two officers actually suffered ruptured ear drums from the long period of gunfire.
Notably, so many police cars surrounded the immobilized Volvo that the Special Response Team (SRT) that was supposed to capture the suspects could not get to the scene because they were blocked by police cars. It is not clear why, without fire coming from the car, it was necessary to fire the first time into the car. One witness, Anthony Vandiver, insists that the two men were putting their hands up as instructed by police when they police opened up again on the car. Police say that they saw movement but the witness said that police were telling the men to raise their hands. I am also not sure why movement alone would justify the second round of bullets absent an officer saying that the suspects were pointing a weapon. I am equally skeptical with the police response in terms of the level of force given the danger to surrounding homes and even fellow officers.
The police say that they were still investigating but it could take years to reach final conclusions from such an investigation.