The two Miami-Dade County detectives who were shot Monday night followed a car they believed looked “suspicious” inside the Annie Coleman projects in Brownsville — and then found themselves in total darkness.
The power had gone out about an hour before the shooting, residents and law enforcement said. It was about 10 p.m.
Not long after, some men walked past the two plainclothes detectives still in their car who were working a gang detail. The men turned back toward the officers’ unmarked vehicle and opened fire.
One officer returned fire, according to law enforcement officers.
Quickly, after the two detectives radioed for help, other detectives showed up in a small pickup truck and whisked the injured cops away. Detectives spent hours in the dark knocking on doors in the two-story, multi-building Brownsville complex in search of the shooters.
By mid-morning Tuesday, no one had been charged with the crime, though a law enforcement source said police had the “suspected” shooter in custody. He was found holed up at Hyatt Place Miami Hotel at 3549 LeJeune Rd.
Still, officially, police hadn’t labeled anyone as the shooter. Miami-Dade Detective Robin Pinkard said investigators hadn’t yet determined if any of the men being held were involved in the shooting.
Shot were detectives Charles Woods and Terence White, veteran cops with 37 years of experience between them, law enforcement sources confirmed. They arrived at Jackson Memorial Hospital in the back of the pickup. Other officers helped them out of the truck and into the hospital.
One officer suffered only a bullet graze. The other was shot in the leg. Both were stable.
“They were outnumbered and outgunned,” said John Rivera, president of the Police Benevolent Association, a labor union. “God was watching over them tonight.”
Miami-Dade police said Tuesday the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting.
The brazen incident took place just off the corner of Northwest 62nd Street and 20nd Avenue. The Annie Coleman housing projects is considered fertile ground for gang activity.
After the shooting and well into Tuesday morning, dozens of police officers — some with K9s — swept through a 13-square-block stretch from Northwest 54th to 62nd streets between 17th and 22nd avenues.
On Monday night, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez spoke outside the hospital.
“If they're brazen enough to to shoot at and try to kill police officers, they’ll shoot at others,” the mayor said. “They don’t deserve to belong on the streets in our community.”
By Tuesday morning, most of Annie Coleman residents were slowly returning to their to their normal habits: Sleepy kids boarded school buses, and some parents headed off to work.
Two mothers stood on Northwest 20th Avenue after leaving their kids at the bus stop. One of them called the night’s events “straight chaos, from 10 o’clock to six in the morning.”
Both women, who declined to give their names, said police searched for the gunmen unit-by-unit, often pulling residents out of their apartments and asking if any teenage males lived there.
One woman said she was outside in a car with relatives when the shooting started. They were trying to avoid the heat that had built up inside after the complex lost power. The power returned, she said, just before 8 a.m. Tuesday.
“The power went off an hour before the shooting started, like somebody had to cut the power to do what they were going to do,” she said.
From the hospital late Monday, Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez asked for the community’s assistance in catching the shooters.
“These individuals not only shot at these officers and struck our police officers: These individuals are causing havoc in our community. Causing chaos in people’s lives. Putting people below the ground,” he said.
“So let’s work together to find a resolution to what occurred tonight. Point us in the right direction.”