Police on Tuesday continued their search for six people involved in an ambush-style shooting of two undercover Miami-Dade police officers in their unmarked car.
The detectives were working a gang detail in Brownsville when they were shot late Monday night by suspects who walked past them, opened fire and fled.
Though police didn't officially release the officers' names, law enforcement sources said Tuesday that the two men shot were Charles Woods and Terrence White. The two, working on a task force that included federal agents, were following a suspicious car into a housing project parking lot and pulled in when somebody opened fire on their unmarked minivan.
One detective is a 26-year veteran and the other is an 11-year veteran.
The officers, who were taken to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital in the back of a pickup by cops who were on the perimeter of the shooting scene, were in stable condition, one grazed by a bullet, the other shot in the leg. As the truck pulled up to the Trauma Center, several officers jumped out and helped the hobbled officers inside.
Miami-Dade police said Tuesday morning that the state Department of Law Enforcement is investigating the shooting.
John Rivera, president of the Miami-Dade police union, said six guys walked toward the unmarked car and some opened fire. At least one of the officers returned fire, he said.
“They were outnumbered and outgunned. God was watching over them tonight,’’ said Rivera.
The brazen shooting took place around 10 p.m. in Brownsville at Northwest 62nd Street and 22nd Avenue, just outside the Annie Coleman housing projects, commonly known as “The Rockies’’and fertile ground for gangs. Swat team members, K-9 officers and hundreds of police officers from Miami-Dade and the city of Miami swept a several-mile stretch for hours from Northwest 62nd to 54th streets, between Northwest 17th and 22nd avenues.
Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said the detectives were part of the Homicide Task Force-Gang Unit.
On Tuesday morning at Annie Coleman Apartments, sleepy kids got on school buses rolling down the streets framing the housing project.
Two Annie Coleman mothers stood on Northwest 20th Avenue after getting their kids off to school, miffed over what one called "straight chaos from 10 o'clock to 6 in the morning." Each said police went unit to unit in search of the gunmen, pulling residents out of their apartments in the wee hours and asking if any teenage males lived there.
A resident on the south side of the complex said she was outside in a car with relatives when the shooting started hiding from the heat inside — the electricity was out in her unit until 7:40 Tuesday morning.
"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," the woman said as she did the hair of the schoolbound girl next door, whose mother couldn't get back home because of the perimeter.
Perez, asking for help from a neighborhood often wary of assisting police, said, “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. So let’s work together to find a resolution to what occurred tonight. Point us in the right direction.”
Miami-Dade Police Maj. Hector Llevat said one of the shooters was 17 to 18, and wearing a hoodie that only showed his eyes.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, who rushed to the hospital, said police need the community's help in capturing the shooters.
“If they're brazen enough to to shoot at and try to kill police officers, they'll shoot at others. They don't deserve to belong on the streets in our community," he said.
As to whether suspects remained on the loose, Miami-Dade police would say only “the scene remains active” and urged anyone with information to come forward.