The family of a 70-year-old bystander killed during a police-involved shootout with two suspects who hijacked a UPS truck in Florida is calling for an investigation.
Richard Cutshaw was killed Dec. 5 when police exchanged gunfire with the suspects in the middle of a street in Miramar in Broward County during rush-hour traffic. Cutshaw's family said he was sitting in his car after leaving work when "the intersection around him erupted into a war zone" and he was killed.
"We cannot make sense of what happened to him; it’s unfathomable," his siblings said in a joint statement.
The family's attorney, Matt Morgan, said at a news conference Tuesday that he is working with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to determine if police followed proper procedures when they pursued the UPS truck and then opened fire with innocent civilians nearby.
"Bullets sprayed across this intersection as if it was a war zone, but it wasn't a war zone. It was an intersection during rush-hour traffic with civilians walking by. ... There are cars parked literally right next to the vehicle that was being fired upon," Morgan said, calling Cutshaw's death an "avoidable consequence."
Morgan told reporters that this incident will be a "case study for decades to come to learn what not to do. "
Cutshaw worked as a field representative for the Government Supervisors Association of Florida and also "worked tirelessly his entire life trying to make lives better for the thousands of people he represented through" the state's United Food and Commercial Workers Union, his family said in their statement.
"Sadly, we will no longer see his smile, hear his laughter, roll our eyes at his jokes, or see the playfulness that he always displayed," they said.
The driver of the UPS truck, Frank Ordoñez, was also killed during the shootout. The two suspects, Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Jerome Hill, both 41, also died.
The incident began in Miami-Dade County at about 4:15 p.m. when Alexander and Hill got into a gun battle with the owner of a jewelry store they were trying to rob on the Miracle Mile, a glitzy downtown stretch of Coral Gables, said FBI Miami special agent in charge George Piro.
Police responded to Regent Jewelers within a minute and a half of a silent alarm in the store's getting triggered, but did not fire at the suspects there. Alexander and Hill then commandeered a nearby UPS truck and took the driver, Ordoñez, hostage.
A fleet of law enforcement vehicles pursued the truck, with the chase ending 20 miles away in Broward County. Several shots were fired, leaving four people dead, including the suspects. It's unclear whose gunfire caused the deaths.
Luz Apolinario, Ordoñez's mother, said words can't describe what she has been feeling.
"I can't believe they killed my son. I came to this country for a better life, not for my son to be killed," she said in Spanish during an interview with Telemundo.
Apolinario said her 27-year-old son was a father of two and had just started driving that route when he was killed.
UPS said in a statement that the company was "deeply saddened" and that Ordoñez died "from a senseless act of violence."
Three officers with the Miramar Police Department and one officer with the Pembroke Pines department fired their weapons during the shootout, both departments said. The officers were all placed on administrative leave in accordance with department policy.
The Florida Highway Patrol said it had one trooper involved in the incident who has been placed on non-disciplinary administrative leave, per department policy.