Miami-Dade County

Man fires AK-47 pistol at cars and cops on Palmetto Expressway

Witness describes shooting on Palmetto Expressway

Man fires AK-47 pistol at cars and cops on Palmetto Expressway
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Man fires AK-47 pistol at cars and cops on Palmetto Expressway

Drivers and police officers on the Palmetto Expressway were met with a hail of bullets early Monday morning from a man firing an AK-47-style machine pistol from inside his car.

Horvin Ruiz, 36, was headed southbound around Northwest 74th Street in a burgundy Toyota Corolla at about 1:20 a.m. when he began firing at passing cars, said Miami-Dade Police Det. Daniel Ferrin. Two vehicles were hit and one man sustained a minor head injury after being struck by debris. The man, who police identified as Enrique Jose Bendana, 35, drove himself to a Doral gas station on 87th Avenue and Northwest 58th Street where he was then transported by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue to Kendall Regional Medical Center off Bird Road and Southwest 117th Avenue.

palmetto-weapon
Miami-Dade Police say said somone opened fire using this weapon in an early morning shooting on the Palmetto Expressway on Monday, May 29, 2017. Martin Vassolo Miami Herald

After losing control of his car and crashing into the center concrete barrier, Ruiz turned his car around and started driving northbound in the southbound lanes, police say. He again veered into a side concrete barrier and then turned his aim to approaching Miami-Dade police officers, Doral police officers and Florida Highway Patrol troopers.

Ruiz exchanged gunfire with a Miami-Dade police officer, who was not named, but eventually surrendered. Hours after the incident, at about 9 a.m., the suspect’s car and several other police vehicles remained on the expressway, which was closed for several hours. Bullet holes riddled the front and back windshield of the man’s Toyota, and the front bumper hung from the car’s frame. Yellow evidence markers and bullet casings littered the surrounding area.

“As you can tell, it’s a very extensive scene. Many shots were fired,” Ferrin said.

A total of eight people are listed as victims in the shooting, likely passengers in the vehicles struck by gunfire. In addition to Bendana, police identified the other seven victims as: Juan Carlos Manresa Castillo, 56, of Hialeah; Ray Alex Fraga Manresa, 39, of Miami-Dade; Rob’Terria Le Neshia Byrd, 24, of Miami-Dade; Simone Nicole Evans, 26, Miami-Dade; Michael Monyane Lekoetue, 29, of Miami-Dade; Lamar Levaughn Jackson, 26, of Margate; and Wang Hongfeng, 37, of Kendall.

Video obtained by the Miami Herald shows an injured man being treated for a head wound by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue following the shooting. The man was lying beside a black car marked by a bullet hole.

Police do not know if Ruiz, who had not been arrested as of Monday evening, was involved in a dispute with another person or if he was firing at random. Charges against him are pending and may come Tuesday, Ferrin said. It wasn’t Ruiz’s first run-in with police in Miami-Dade County. In 2005, he was charged with possessing 20 grams or fewer of marijuana, court records show. In 1998, he was charged with burglary of an occupied dwelling.

A man who witnessed the shooting said he was driving home from a party when he heard gunshots, video obtained by the Herald shows. The car in front of his was struck multiple times, one bullet nearly striking the driver’s head, the witness said.

“Welcome to Miami,” said the man, who gave his name as Charles. “It’s not gonna get any better; it’s just gonna get worse.”

Ferrin said police were still unsure whether Ruiz had a target in mind or if he simply fired indiscriminately.

“[It’s] unknown if it was an incident occurring between two individuals or if he was just firing as an active shooter,” Ferrin said.

The incident caused the northbound and southbound lanes of the highway to close for hours, but the it eventually opened up.

Ferrin said it was miraculous that the shooting didn’t lead to more injuries. He attributed that to the “quick response of these officers, putting their lives at risk for the community.”

“It is a miracle,” he said.

Police ask anyone with information on this incident to call CrimeStoppers at 305-471-8477.

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