How a hate-crime probe led to a car chase and deadly shoot-em-up with feds and cops

Fresh off a prison stint, an ex-con named Alexander Carballido robbed a man at gunpoint in Little Havana — stealing pricey gold chains, assaulting him and sparking a hate-crime investigation — before leading police on a perilous car chase while firing a rifle through his window.

Carballido would not live to go back to prison.

As Carballido crashed his car in West Miami-Dade late Thursday night, more than a dozen police officers opened fire, ripping his car to shreds in a scene resembling one from an action movie. Cellphone footage recorded hundreds of rounds of ear-piercing gunfire that lit up the night sky near Miami International Airport.

“It seemed like a war. It was impressive,” said Alma Aguirre, who witnessed the shootout from her balcony overlooking the crime scene. “Police cars came down the street along with two helicopters pursuing him. I’d say it was about 30 or 40 police cars.”

County, state and federal agents worked throughout the day Friday to piece together Carballido’s final hours and document crime scenes that stretched miles and snarled traffic. What exactly drove Carballido’s final spree may never be known, but authorities marveled that no officers or bystanders were hurt in the gun battle that last about 10 minutes.

The 40-year-old Carballido had a lengthy criminal history. In the early 2000s, he completed a five-year prison term for robbery and fleeing and eluding. He didn’t stay free long.

In 2007, Carballido pushed his girlfriend out of his car and tried to run over a Miami cop before crashing the vehicle. He then carjacked a vehicle — using a machete to menace the female driver — and was later arrested at Mount Sinai Medical Center on Miami Beach. “What we’re talking about is a cracked-out, machete-wielding moron who went on his own personal countywide crime spree,” a Miami police spokesman said at the time.

He pleaded guilty to a host of felonies and spent more than a decade in prison. In July, he walked free, although he was still on probation.

Back in society, Carballido posted on Facebook that he got work at Studio 60, a Latin nightclub in Allapattah. In another Facebook post, he showed off stacks of cash. “Everyday I’m hustling,” he wrote.

By Wednesday morning, he was back on the police radar.

A security guard named Amehd Angel Olavarrieta, who has talked to multiple media outlets about his ordeal, told police that Carballido, possibly posing as a supervisor needing to talk to him, showed up at his home on the 1330 block of Northwest 25th Court on Wednesday morning.

According to Olavarrieta’s initial account to police, the two went inside the home and Carballido pulled out a gun and ordered him to take off his clothes. Rummaging through the victim’s bedroom, Carballido stole four Cuban chain gold links valued at $2,000, three gold rings worth $1,700 and two pairs of Converse sneakers worth $140, police said.

Then, Olavarrieta said, Carballido pistol-whipped him and assaulted him with the barrel of the gun. “I should shoot you in the ass,” Carballido told him before using a Spanish-language slur against gay men.

Before leaving, Carballido demanded the phone numbers of gay men to rob. Olavarrieta said the gunman ordered him to get dressed, and go to his car, where he showed him a bag believed filled with weapons.

“The offender told him if he called police he was going to kill him,” according to a Miami police report.

Carballido drove off. Olavarrieta called police officers, who summoned the FBI to investigate the case as a possible hate crime. The FBI, in a statement, said Carballido was “an imminent threat to public safety” and he acted against Olavarrieta “based on the victim’s actual/perceived sexual orientation.”

Less than 36 hours later, at 8:45 p.m. on Thursday, police spotted Carballido at a gas station at Northwest 57th Avenue and Flagler Street. Carballido saw them and opened fire with his assault rifle from inside his 2011 gray Nissan Altima.

Over the next 10 minutes, police and Carballido exchanged gunfire at at least four different spots as dozens of officers and agents gave chase up and down the streets of West Miami-Dade. Ultimately, spiked “stop strips” were used to pop his tires and stop the car.

The Nissan crashed into the back of a cement truck on Northwest Seventh Street near 72nd Avenue. Gunfire erupted again. Police bullets tore into Carballido’s car. He was found with the assault rifle still on his lap, a shotgun next to him on the passenger’s seat.

In all, 19 officers opened fire — 10 from Miami-Dade, five from Miami and four FBI agents.

Steadman Stahl, president of Miami-Dade’s police union, said officers acted out of fear for their lives. “The guy was hell-bent on doing some damage to people. It was a good shoot,” Stahl said.

The aftermath of the shooting led to a massive police investigation. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, along with state prosecutors, are investigating the police use of deadly force. The FBI has taken the lead in the overall investigation.

Though efforts to reach Carballido’s family were unsuccessful, a woman claiming to be his sister, Elizabeth McGuffin, posted a picture of the two of them at a bar. She appeared to cite his long stint in prison.

“i lost you for so long and finally got you back.... and YOU PULL THIS SH*T ON ME???” the post read. “You were my protector and now you left me all alone...again. RIP, i hate you so much right now.”

Miami Herald Staff Writer Jay Weaver contributed to this report.