Miam-Dade commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz, right, talks to police officers at the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital after an armed drugstore robbery and subsequent manhunt that left three officers shot, and two suspects dead, in Northwest Miami-Dade on Dec. 10.
Photo credit: Peter Andrew Bosch/Miami Herald/MCT
Police detectives check out the AC truck belonging to alleged suspect Adrian Montesano, who allegedly robbed a Walgreens near Northwest 27th Avenue and West Flagler Street in Miami on Dec. 10.
Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero/Miami Herald/MCT
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue transports a person from the apartment adjacent to a shooting scene near NW 27th Avenue and 65th Street on Dec. 10 in Miami.
Photo credit: Walter Michot/Miami Herald/MCT
Miami-Dade Police secure the scene where a person was shot dead and lay next to a blue sedan just east of NW 27th Avenue and 65th Street on Dec. 10 in Miami.
Photo credit: Walter Michot/Miami Herald/MCT
Adrian Montesano's friend and business partner was trying to figure out what caused the young man to snap on Tuesday, when Montesano allegedly stormed a Miami-Dade drugstore at gunpoint, then shot multiple police officers, stole a patrol car, and wrecked another vehicle before police shot him and another man dead in a hail of bullets.
"I watched it all go down on TV, just like everyone else," said Manny Quiros, who for the past six years has owned a small air-conditioning business with Montesano called Montesa Solutions. Quiros said he had been friends with Montesano for more than a decade. "All I can say is, he's a good guy, and I have no idea why he did what they're saying he did."
Police said Montesano, 27, the son of longtime Hialeah internist and real-estate developer Dr. Jesus Montesano, led them on a morning manhunt through Miami-Dade County. The incident left six officers injured -- three with gunshot wounds -- and ended in an ear-splitting shootout near Northwest 27th Avenue and 65th Street.
"It was like a war. I just kept hearing shots," said Louise Lester, who lives in the Jolivette public-housing complex near the fatal shooting scene.
Patricia Riou, one of Lester's neighbors, said she no longer felt safe in her home, which on Tuesday had crime-scene tape on its back door and a view of orange evidence markers.
"I can't take it anymore," Riou said, adding that her sons "hit the floor" when the bullets started to fly. "We didn't know where they were coming from. It sounded like it was in the apartment."
The deadly series of events began before dawn, when Montesano tried to rob a Walgreens at 2700 W. Flagler St. in Little Havana about 4:30 a.m. A Miami police union official released a security-camera image from the store showing Montesano holding a woman at gunpoint, his left forearm around her neck and his right hand holding a handgun to her head.
It's unclear if Montesano made off with any money, but he appeared to have ditched his pickup truck, emblazoned with his company's logo, at Northwest 29th Avenue and 22nd Street, about two miles north of the Walgreens.
About 5 a.m., police tried to approach Montesano near Northwest 27th Avenue and 22nd Street, two blocks east of where his truck was parked. He opened fire, police said, shooting Miami-Dade Officer Saul Rodriguez in the abdomen.
Montesano then swiped the injured officer's gun and sped off in his marked patrol car, police said. Responding colleagues rushed Rodriguez to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he underwent surgery and was expected to recover.
A countywide manhunt ensued. Police found Rodriguez's squad car abandoned in Hialeah about 5:30 a.m. Soon after, Hialeah police spotted Montesano and another person in a light-blue Volvo convertible near East Sixth Street and 10th Avenue.
Officers pursued the car to Northwest 27th Avenue and 65th Street, where it crashed, wedged between a tree and a utility pole.
As police moved in, officers from multiple departments exchanged gunfire with the people who were in the car. Both of them died, police said. The person with Montesano was not identified Tuesday, and police did not say what the person's connection was to Montesano.
In the gunfight, bullets hit two Miami-Dade officers in their arms. They were treated at Jackson Memorial's Ryder Trauma Center and released later in the day. Three other officers -- two from Miami, one from Hialeah -- were taken to hospitals with minor injuries related to the shootout. Only Rodriguez remained hospitalized late Tuesday.
"He's in good shape and is going to recover," Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson said. "Thank God it was not a life-sustaining organ that was penetrated."
Rodriguez, a 13-year veteran, also fell under gunfire from a suspect in a 2011 incident in Northwest Miami-Dade. He was not injured, but his partner was shot in the chest and survived, thanks to a bulletproof vest.
Montesano's record shows one previous run-in with the law: a 2007 arrest in Miami Beach after he cut a fence and drove his truck onto the sand at the 79th Street beach. The truck got stuck, and Montesano was using beach signs to try to create traction for his tires, according to an arrest report.
When Miami Beach officers approached him, Montesano cursed and claimed he had a cousin who was in law enforcement, the report noted. He chuckled when officers ordered him to keep his hands in their sight.
"Defendant was verbally abusive," officers wrote.
A man who said he had known Montesano since they attended Miami Lakes Middle School told reporters on Tuesday that his friend had fallen in with the wrong crowd and had gotten into drugs. He said he believed Montesano robbed Walgreens for money to buy drugs.
"He had an addiction," said the friend, who declined to give his name and was later whisked away by detectives for private questioning. "He was good, he was bad. The last time I spoke to him he was good, you know, he was doing his job, working, what he loved to do. I guess he got with the bad people again and it caused him to do all this."
Attempts to contact Montesano's relatives were unsuccessful. Besides his father, Montesano's immediate family includes his mother, Diana, and a brother, Elio.
"We've been in touch, and they're trying to figure out why this happened, too," said Quiros, Montesano's friend and business partner. "In terms of drugs, back in the day, I think he did the same things that every kid does. But as of recently, I didn't know of any issues or problems with that stuff."
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, speaking at Jackson Memorial, decried the violence and said investigators were working to put together the pieces of a bizarre, deadly puzzle.
"There seem to be more brazen attacks by people who aren't right," Gimenez said. "We need to find out what's going on. It appears to be ... illogical."
Miami Herald photojournalist Walter Michot, el Nuevo Herald photojournalist C.M. Guerrero, and news partner CBS4 contributed to this report.
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