LAUDERHILL, Fla. - A man matching the description of an armed robbery suspect was killed by a Broward Sheriff's Office deputy during a shootout in the hallway of a Lauderhill apartment building Thursday night.
"I was in my bed and I just heard … a bunch of shooting," said a woman who lives in building N of the Cypress Groves apartments, 4200 NW 19th Street.
Friday morning, the stucco of that hallway looked like Swiss cheese.
"I stayed on the floor wrapped up in my blanket and I ain't trying to get up to see what's going on," said the woman who spoke to reporters through a narrow crack in her apartment door.
It began about 10 p.m. when two women walking outside GG's of New York on U.S. Highway 441 in North Lauderdale had their purses stolen by two armed men.
About an hour later, a deputy spotted a man matching the description of one of the suspects at the apartment complex. Investigators said the man ran when the deputy tried to stop him. He ducked into the building and ran down the hall to get away from the deputy who was chasing him.
"At one point he turned around and fired at our deputy," BSO spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion said.
The deputy, identified as Gerald Wengert, fired back and at least one of the bullets struck the suspect. His blood was still on the floor long after crime scene technicians finished their work. Neighbors said the man didn't die right away but was badly injured.
"I just heard him when he said, 'Well lift me on my side,'" said Shaketa Gunning, who told Local 10's Roger Lohse she was in the hallway with her children five minutes before the shooting. "He was like, 'It's hurting. It's hurting.' He was like, 'Please, I can't breathe.' That was the only thing I heard."
The bullet holes on both ends of the corridor suggest it was a real shootout. Gunning said there is no doubt.
"It was like back to back, like when you heard the first shots, it paused, then it went again -- boom, boom, boom, boom," said Gunning. "I told my kids, 'Get down.' I said, 'That's a gun. That's not a firecracker.'"
The suspect, identified as Steven Thompson, 26, died at Broward Health Medical Center.
Concepcion said Thompson had been arrested on felony charges 29 times and convicted 11 times since 2003.
Wengert, a 16-year BSO veteran, was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal review of the shooting.
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