MIAMI - Two Miami-Dade County police officers and a suspect are dead after a shootout in Miami on Thursday morning.
Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus identified the slain officers as Roger Castillo, a 21-year veteran, and Amanda Haworth, a 23-year veteran. The suspect was identified as 23-year-old Johnny Simms .
Castillo died at the scene. Haworth was taken to Jackson-Memorial Hospital, where she died during surgery.
The incident occurred near Seventh Avenue and Northwest 69th Street in Miami. Loftus said Castillo, Haworth and two other officers, Diedre Beecher and Oscar Plasencia, were involved.
Barry Golden, of the U.S. Marshals Service, said no marshals were at the scene, but the Miami-Dade police officers who were involved were part of a U.S. Marshals Florida regional task force.
"This career unit is very well trained, very armed, and protects themselves. They know what they're doing," Alvarez said.
Loftus said the officers were serving Simms with a murder warrant from the city of Miami.
"They made contact with a member of the family that said they'd be right back," Mayor Carlos Alvarez said. "They encountered the subject. There were gunshots exchanged."
A man at the scene said he heard eight to 12 shots.
Castillo was shot in the head and died at the scene, according to Miami-Dade police. Haworth was shot several times and taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center in critical condition. She underwent surgery there, but she died Thursday afternoon, Alvarez said.
Beecher suffered minor injuries and is being treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.
Loftus said Plasencia, a 30-year veteran, fatally shot Simms.
"I saw a lot of people running, and I heard a lot of shots," said witness Tyrone Lamar.
"In a matter of minutes, we have 300 cars out here," witness Isaiah Walker.
"I knew it was something big when I saw all the police officers converging at once," said Luis Montealegre, another witness.
Loftus said Castillo had three children, and Haworth had one. He said the shootings were "our worst nightmare."
Simms had a lengthy arrest record, including convictions for selling cocaine, robbery and grand theft. He spent nearly two years in state prison and was serving five years of probation. The warrant the officers were serving was for a killing in Miami, although no details were available about that crime.
"That guy is evil. He murdered two of my people today. Anyone can try and talk me out of it if they want to, but I'm telling you that's the way I feel," Loftus said.
On Friday morning, Simms stepfather, who did not want to appear on camera and identified himself only as Willy, spoke with Local 10's Ben Kennedy.
"I just want to send my condolences to the two fallen officers. We are sorry for what went down yesterday. We are sorry," he said.
"Folks, these people are you," Loftus said while addressing the media. "They're parents, they're spouses, they're children. Families are devastated by what happened here today. God almighty, I know there are more cop shows on television than there is about any other topic at all. People think they know us. And in so many ways they get this bastardized view of it. What you don't get in 60-minute television shows is these are people who go home and they go to their kids' sports games and they go to their dance lessons. And they're never going again. And I'm pissed off about it."
"Unfortunately, no matter how well prepared you are, no matter how well armed you are, no matter how well trained you are, when there is a violent criminal out there that is willing to give up his life, he will always have the upper hand," Alvarez said. "Because you don't know if this guy is just going to give up, even though he might be a violent subject, or in this case, he chose to shoot it out with the police."
Gov. Rick Scott released the following statement:
"This evening, my thoughts and prayers are with the families of the two fallen heroes from the Miami-Dade Police Department who gave their lives in the line of duty. Each day, the men and women of law enforcement risk their lives to protect ours. For this act of sacrifice, we must remain eternally grateful and do all that we can to prevent these despicable acts of violence from occurring in our communities."
John Rivera, the president of the Miami-Dade County Police Benevolent Association, released the following statement Thursday afternoon.
"Today, our community lost two more heroes. Our hearts ache for their families and their loved ones who are dealing with incomprehensible grief, loss and shock. These two officers were loving family members, friends and our neighbors. They wanted to serve their community and make it a better, safer place for all of us," Rivera said.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said she was "deeply saddened" by the officers' deaths. "My condolences go out to the families and colleagues of these officers. We will always remember what each of them bravely sacrificed for their community. Let this serve as a reminder of the danger that law enforcement faces daily in an effort to protect each of us," she said.
U.S. Rep. David Rivera also released a statement sending his "deepest sympathies and condolences" to Castillo and Haworth's loved ones. "These two brave officers gave their lives while serving and protecting the residents of Miami-Dade County, and the prayers of our community are with their families in this difficult time."
A fund has been set up to help the families of the fallen officers. All of the money donated will go to the families.
The Love Fund c/o Dade County Police Benevolent Association, 10680 PBA Memorial Boulevard, Doral, FL 33172
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