MIAMI, FL — A suspected bank robber, who was reportedly wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet, was shot to death by police after a wild chase across Miami-Dade County that included two armed carjackings and a police standoff t on live television. Officers with guns drawn surrounded 52-year-old Ernesto Padron as he bobbed up and down in the murky Miami River. Police then opened fired when Padron refused to surrender and instead produced a handgun, according to the official account.
"We began to pull back our uniformed personnel and bring some tactical personnel in to include our hostage negotiators," Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez told reporters on the scene. The incident occurred near Marlins Park and involved multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Miami-Dade Police Department, FBI, Miami Police Department and Hialeah Police Department.
Detective Alvaro Zabaleta of the Miami-Dade Police Department said that officers opened fire when Padron pulled out a handgun. The standoff took place at NW 27 Ave between 17 Street and 20 Street. Police closed the 27th Avenue Bridge for a time and asked motorists to avoid the area, which is not far from Marlins Park.
"Hostage negotiators maintained an open line of communication with the subject in attempts to convince him to surrender," Zabaleta said. "The subject then began to submerge himself several times, produced a firearm, and shots were fired."
Padron was pronounced dead by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue at the scene. No officers were injured.
Detective Robin Pinkard of the Miami-Dade Police Department confirmed to Patch that Padron was shot by Miami-Dade officers but she could not say where he was shot or how many times. Local 10 News reported that a total of nine officers opened fire.
Pinkard said that the initial call came in from the FBI, which was attempting to arrest Padron around 7:30 a.m. The initial location for the call was listed as 20th Street and NW 27th Avenue in Hialeah. Police said that Padron escaped on foot when FBI agents showed up to take him into custody for the bank robbery. Padron could be seen on helicopter news video eluding police in a brown BMW SUV that was taken during the first carjacking at a Hialeah gas station.
"A police pursuit ensued and the subject drove to the city of Miami, where he committed a second armed carjacking," according to Zabaleta, who identified the second vehicle as a black Mazda SUV. "The subject then utilized the second stolen vehicle to continue to elude the officers. The subject stopped the vehicle in the area of NW 27 Avenue and NW 20 Street, fled on foot and jumped into the Miami River.
Video shot from Local 10's news helicopter showed Padron abandoning the stolen BMW SUV and pointing a gun at the driver of the Mazda who was stopped in traffic on her way to work.
"Get the 'F' out of the car right now or I will shoot you," the woman, identified as Minerva Castellano recalled Padron saying to her in an interview with Local 10 News. "I wasn't really scared at the moment because I'm thinking it's an undercover cop because I had seen cops all over the place. I thought he was an undercover cop that needed my car."
Local 10 News also reported that the FBI wanted Padron in connection with a Sept. 29 bank robbery. An audio recording of the police dispatch call said that Padron had been wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet at the time he was shot.
While the FBI did not immediately comment on Friday's incident, the agency previously released a surveillance image taken during the Sept. 29 robbery. Agents identified the bank address as 10815 Sunset Drive in Miami.
At one point during Friday's standoff, Miami police called for news helicopters to pull back. "We are attempting to coordinate w/other agencies," police said in a tweet prior to the shooting. "We ask media outlets to move helicopters back as it makes it difficult to communicate."
As with all shootings that involve Miami-Dade County police officers, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is conducting an independent investigation.
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