Police release identity of detective, suspects shot at grow house

Shooting happened near Coral Way & Southwest 57th Avenue

By Baron James , Ben Kennedy - Reporter

MIAMI - A Miami-Dade undercover narcotics detective who was shot several times in the stomach while he and other officers were involved in an investigation at a home along Coral Way is doing "much better than expected," according to police.

The shooting happened at a house near SW 24th Street and 62nd Avenue about 6:45 p.m. on Tuesday. Police said John Saavedra, the detective, received a tip about people at the house who were operating a marijuana grow house.

When the narcotics unit and FBI agents arrived, detectives began speaking to a man when another man, identified by police as Gerardo Delgado, who was sitting in a car parked at the house, began shooting. That's when Saavedra, 34, was hit with several shots from a Colt .45 handgun. In turn, other detectives started shooting. Saavedra was wearing a bulletproof vest.

"Our officers had no idea he was in this parked car," said Miami-Dade Police Lt. Rosana Cordero-Stutz.

Miami-Dade police said Delgado was shot and killed. The other man, Luis Lazaro Estevanell, was arrested.

READ: Arrest affidavit for Estevanell

Daylight revealed the aftermath of the shooting with a tree, car, and house riddled with bullets.

Delgado's son told Local 10's Ben Kennedy his father saw a strange man outside his home and went outside to protect his property. He offered no comment when asked if his father ran a marijuana grow house.

"What happened was a strange man was lurking around and my father came out to protect his property and the strange man that turned out to be a police officer murdered him on the spot," said Geraldo Delgado.

"This is brutality. This is abuse. There's nothing going on here. The people that were here were good people -- decent people -- and there was no reason for this," said Delgado's wife.

Police said the narcotics unit identified themselves as police officers prior to the shooting.

Police said that 80 pounds of marijuana, worth about $90,000, were found inside the grow house.

"There were marijuana plants in various stages of growth... so, they had from seedlings to full plants," said Cordero-Stutz.

PHOTOS: Inside the grow house

Estevanell faces several charges, including second-degree murder, trafficking marijuana, and possession of cocaine. He was given no bond on the second-degree murder charge.

VIDEO: Detective arrives at Jackson Memorial Hospital

Meanwhile, Saavedra was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital where he underwent surgery.

Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus, who spoke exclusively with Local 10, said Saavedra was conscious and is expected to survive. He is listed in stable condition.

Miami-Dade Detective Roy Rutland said Saavedra was alert and talking with family members and officers before going into surgery. Rutland said Saavedra had been shot multiple times in the stomach. Police said Saavedra's wife was at the hospital with their family.

Saavedra, who has been with the Miami-Dade Police Department for about 10 years, has been involved in a shooting before. In 2004, he fatally shot a mentally ill man who was attacking two other officers and he was awarded "Officer of the Year" in 2005.

A large perimeter was established in the area that covered about six blocks as police investigated. During that time, many residents were not allowed in or out of their homes.

"It's kinda scary… Especially kinda close to where you live. It's very scary," Gloria, a neighbor, told Local 10.

"I was inside my house, inside my room with clothes and shoes," said one neighbor.

Neighbors were evacuated as yellow tape went up. Twelve hours, later police took out black bags and towed two cars from the suspected drug house.

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