Crime

Miami-Dade police shoot and kill a murder fugitive firing on them with a rifle

Ronnie Churches
Ronnie Churches

Miami-Dade police officers shot and killed a fugitive on Monday after he emerged from a home and began firing at police with a rifle, law enforcement sources told the Herald.

The slain gunman is believed to be Ronnie Angelo Churches, 45, who was suspected of firing a bullet into the head of a man sitting in his car with his fiancée and her children outside an Opa-locka pawnshop on Sunday afternoon. The victim, Roberto Cardenas, 44, was rushed to the hospital but pronounced dead Monday morning, police said.

The two men had gotten into an argument in the parking lot outside the Money Tree Pawn shop. According to police, Cardenas got back in his Nissan Altima when Churches walked up to the open driver’s door and opened fire. Cardenas’ girlfriend and her two children, ages 10 and 15, were not hurt.

According to police, Churches stole a 2005 Dodge Durango afterward and had been on the lam since. Detectives had been searching for Churches since the Sunday afternoon shooting.

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The shooting with police happened as officers from the Homicide Street Violence Task Force were watching one of his last known addresses in Miami Gardens, on the 20400 block of Northwest 23rd Court.

Churches had a long history of crime, including three separate stints in Florida state prison, records show. Last year, he was released from state prison after serving a 10-year stint for a slew of felonies including armed burglary, threats with a firearm and cocaine possession.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will investigate the police shooting. Ultimately, Miami-Dade prosecutors will have to decide whether the officers were justified in using deadly force.

At least six police officers opened fire. Aerial TV news footage showed his covered body behind a Toyota Prius, riddled with police bullets. An assault-style rifle was on the sidewalk near the body.

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