Florida police are investigating an incident in which nearly two-dozen officers fired a torrent of bullets at two unarmed men, killing both of them, injuring other officers, and risking the lives of neighboring residents.
The incident began late last year, when Adrian Montesano reportedly robbed a Walgreens store at gunpoint and, in the aftermath, shot Miami Dade Police Officer Saul Rodriguez. Montesano took off in Rodriguez’s police vehicle after the shooting, dropped it off at his grandmother’s house, and fled again in a blue Volvo.
According to an investigative report by CBS Miami, officers identified the Volvo around 6:23 a.m. and gave chase – not realizing at the time that there was a second man in the car. Corsini Valdes had not committed a crime and, like Montesano at this time, was not armed. It’s unclear when exactly Valdez joined Montesano in the vehicle.
The car chase didn’t last long. Montesano crashed through a fence and ended up in the backyard of a local townhouse, wedged between a tree and a light pole. After police surrounded the Volvo, approximately a minute passed before officers opened fire, shooting 50 bullets at the car.
Both Montesano and Valdes were still alive after the first wave of bullets. At this point, a supervisor tried to take control of the situation and bring in a special response team to address the situation, but something triggered the gunfire of one officer and the others joined in a barrage of bullets that reportedly lasted for almost 25 seconds.
It’s unclear exactly why the police opened fire the second time – despite dispatcher warnings that Montesano was armed, neither of the two men were found with any weapons – but by the end of the entire ordeal 23 officers had shot a total of 377 rounds.
One witness, who saw the shooting occur from his apartment, said the men were trying to turn themselves in.
“[Police] were saying put your hands up, and the guys were still moving after they shot maybe 50, 60 times,” neighbor Anthony Vandiver told CBS Miami. “The guy tried to put his hands up, and as soon as he put his hands up, it erupted again, and that was it for them. That guy tried his best to give up.”
When the storm of bullets ended, both men had been struck dozens of times and were found dead.
According to CBS, preliminary evidence seems to show that officers “lost sight of their own training” and were “caught up in the heat of the moment.” Montesano and Valdes weren’t the only two struck by bullets, though. Two Miami Dade officers were hit in the crossfire, though they survived, and another two endured ruptured eardrums due to the sound of the gunfire.
Additionally, police endangered the lives of local residents by spraying such a vast amount of bullets. Inside the townhouse, a 12-year-old boy had to find cover when the gunfire started, and a four-month-old baby was sleeping in a crib at the time of the incident. Other parents were preparing their kids for school, while Metrorail users were standing on the platform out in the open when the shooting occurred.
“It was like the wild, wild west, man — crazy,” Vandiver added to CBS. “Shooting just wild, shooting all over the place. Bullets could have come through the window. Anything could have happened, man. They weren’t thinking, they weren’t thinking at all.”