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Gunman shot by off-duty police officer at Miami library, police say

Suspect's actions not random, police say

MIAMI – A man was taken in custody Wednesday after a shooting at a downtown Miami library, Miami-Dade police said.

The shooting happened at the main Miami-Dade Public Library on Flagler Street.

Lewis Rojas and his brother, Elvis, said they were inside the library at about 10:30 a.m. when a man, who police said is in his 50s, came into the library with a loaded gun, taking aim at another man in his 60s. 

"This was not a random act of violence," Miami-Dade police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta said. "This was an altercation that was going on for several days already."

Miami-Dade police Detective Marjorie Eloi said the gunman was shot by a Miami-Dade police officer who was working an off-duty detail at the library.

Zabaleta said the gunman was shot in the torso.

Witnesses told Local 10 News that they saw a man with a ponytail pacing around the library before the shots were fired. They said everyone started running after the first shot.

Another witness, who was outside the library, said he heard gunshots and saw people running out.

"I heard it, and then a few minutes later I started seeing everybody running," witness Pedro Orta said.

Sky 10 was above the scene as the man was being carried out of the library on a stretcher and placed into the back of an ambulance.

Miami Department of Fire-Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll said he was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center. His condition has not been released.

Eloi said no one else was injured.

Zabaleta said the shooter's intended victim was not struck.

When asked if he was concerned that someone could bring a gun into the library, Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo said it's "something that we need to look at in the near future."

The library was surrounded by police tape.

Police said on Twitter that a search of the library was conducted, and the building has been deemed safe.

Meanwhile, the officer who shot the suspect is being credited for saving numerous lives.

"This could've been worse if the officer didn't move as quickly and as tactfully as he did," Zabaleta said. 

Eloi said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the police-involved shooting, per department policy.

The library will reopen at 10 a.m. Friday.


About the Authors:

Peter Burke returned for a second stint of duty at Local 10 News in February 2014.

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.