Luz Apolinario can't believe that she will be spending Christmas without her son Frank Ordoñez, the 27-year-old UPS driver who was killed during a police-involved shootout in Florida this week.
"I have no words to explain what I'm feeling," said the heartbroken mother in Spanish during an emotional interview with Telemundo. "He would tell me: 'Mom, all of us are going to be together this Christmas.'"
Ordoñez, a father of two, was working his route Thursday when his truck was comandeered in an attempted armed robbery that ended in a hail of gunfire.
He had recently started driving a new route, according to his parents. His truck was hijacked by two men who had attempted an armed robbery on a South Florida jewelry store. Ordoñez was still inside the vehicle when authorities launched a two-county, rush-hour police chase that ended in a shootout between authorities and the suspects. Four people were killed, including the suspects and Ordoñez.
It's unclear whose gunfire hit Ordoñez. The FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives joined state and local police in investigating the incident.
"I can't believe they killed my son. I came to this country for a better life, not for my son to be killed," said Apolinario, an Ecuadorian immigrant living in Hialeah, Florida.
Apolinario said her son had bought all the Christmas decorations for her home and had stayed up all night alongside his two daughters putting them up. Now, every time she looks at them, she is reminded of the tragedy that cost him his life.
The mother said she has watched news footage "over and over" of the gunfire that ended the incident. "He wasn't even given a chance," she said.
"I wish I would have died before he did," she added, crying.
His mother and family have described Ordoñez as an exemplary man dedicated to his job. He was looking forward to buying his own house next year to give his daughters a stable place to live.
Ordoñez is survived by his two daughters, ages 6 and 3.