MIAMI – A taxi cab driver opened fire at a Miami police officer and stole his police cruiser Tuesday morning, police said.
The shooting happened after an altercation at a taxi cab stand along Northwest 79th Street.
Miami police spokeswoman Officer Frederica Burden said the irate taxi driver, employed by Central Cab, sped off and was pulled over near Northwest Fourth Avenue.
The cab driver got out of the car and started shooting, striking a passing driver and sending the officer running for cover, Burden said.
"There was a shootout," Burden said.
The bystander was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital in stable condition.
"It must have been at least 30 or 40 shots because they were back to back to back to back to back," said Rachel Amroise, who witnessed the shooting. "It was scary."
Police said the gunman then got into the police cruiser and drove off.
The officer was hurt during the incident and taken to a hospital. He was expected to be OK.
Javier Ortiz, president of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, said the suspect attempted to kill the officer.
"Our officer returned fire and a good Samaritan provided cover and rescued him while the offender continued to shoot at him with an assault rifle," Ortiz said.
Ortiz said the good Samaritan pulled up alongside the officer in a van and told him to get in. Sky 10 later flew above a van that appeared to have the front driver's side window shot out.
Police said the officer is a 28-year-old rookie who has only been on the force for about eight months. He is married and has a young child.
The police car was later found near Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 95th Street in North Miami.
Police said the cab driver got out of the police car outside the Tropicana Apartment Rentals and started shooting at a North Miami police officer. The officer fired back, wounding the suspect.
"I just heard this loud explosion --a couple loud explosions and that was it," Kenleigh Pinder, who lives in the area, said. "(I) went out real quick and saw police; 50 cop cars, and someone said it was a gunshot, and (I) went back to doing laundry."
The suspect was flown to a hospital.
The good Samaritan is being questioned by detectives with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Police said he will be honored at a commission meeting in the coming weeks.
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