MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – A Miami-Dade police officer was recovering at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Thursday, a day after he was shot at close range outside a Walmart, where he was working an off-duty detail.
Authorities said Officer Manuel Gonzalez, 31, was not wearing a bulletproof vest when he was shot multiple times by a shoplifting suspect.
"Thankfully, the officer survived a vicious attack, and for that, I will be forever grateful," Miami-Dade Police Department Director Juan Perez said.
The shooting was reported about 1 p.m. Wednesday in the parking lot of a Walmart on Northwest 79th Street near Northwest 32nd Avenue.
Detective Argemis Colome said Gonzalez suspected David Facen, 54, of Miami, had shoplifted from the store.
"The officer kept telling him, 'You don't hear me? I'm right behind you.' Then the individual finally turned around and said to the officer, 'What, you want to talk to me?'" a witness said.
When Gonzalez confronted him in the parking lot, Facen pulled out a gun and shot the officer several times, Colome said.
Gonzalez then returned fire, killing Facen, Colome said.
Gonzalez, who is married with two children, was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition. Police said he is in good spirits and is expected to recover.
State prison records show Facen had a violent criminal past. He was previously convicted of second-degree murder in 1992 and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Facen was also sent to prison in 2005 for battery on a law enforcement officer or firefighter. He was released on Nov. 28, 2016, after serving about 12 years of a 15-year sentence.
"Perhaps he shouldn't have been on the streets, but that's how it goes, right? Our justice (system) -- at times, we give people second chances, and sometimes we forget to count, and those second chances are repeated over and over," Perez said.
Gonzalez has been an officer with the Miami-Dade Police Department for more than six years.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting, per Miami-Dade police policy.