Driver intentionally crashes car into Miami police substation, police say

Family members told police Giftson Cherenfant seemed 'a bit peculiar' recently

MIAMI – A car crashed into a Miami police substation Friday morning, which police believe was intentional.

The crash occurred shortly after 7 a.m. at the Miami Police Department's North District Substation.

Miami police said the older-model red Chevrolet Impala crashed into the rear utility room of the substation at 1000 NW 62nd St.

The suspect, identified as Giftson Cherenfant, 36, was pinned inside the car and fire-rescue personnel had to cut the doors off to get to him, Officer Kiara Delva said.

Police said a suspicious package and gun were also found in the car that crashed into the building, prompting an evacuation.

The bomb squad was called to the scene, but no explosives were found. Authorities later confirmed that a safe was found in the car. 

Miami police Chief Jorge Colina said that after reviewing surveillance video, detectives believe the crash was intentional. 

"We see him drive and then he approaches at a high rate of speed. He breaches the rear gate," Colina said. "If he would have stopped there, then perhaps there's still a chance that it was accidental, but the fact that he continues, regains speed and then plows into the wall, leads us to believe that it was intentional." 

No one was inside the utility room when the crash occurred. 

Colina said one of his officers acted courageously by using his vehicle to trap Cherenfant's car. The officer drove up to the back of the suspect's car, so Cherenfant couldn't back up and leave, or back up and try to ram the building again.

Police don't know why Cherenfant would try to attack the building. Colina said there is nothing in his past to indicate that he would do something like this, although his family said he had been acting strangely for the past few days.

"There really is nothing in his history that would indicate why he would behave this way. He does have a history of narcotics use," Colina said. "Our investigators have spoken to some family (members) of the driver of this vehicle, and they did express that over the last couple of days he was acting a bit peculiar."

The suspect's mother, Celia Cherenfant, told Local 10 News reporter Glenna Milberg that Giftson Cherenfant is one of seven siblings and her only son.

"Only one son that God give to me," she said. 

Celia Cherenfant said her son lives with her and she wondered where he went Friday morning when she noticed that his car was gone. 

Northwest 60th to 63rd streets were closed between Northwest 10th and 12th avenues during the investigation.

Giftson Cherenfant was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital with minor injuries. No other injuries were reported. 

About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."