HOMESTEAD, Fla. – A man being sought for shooting at police officers over the weekend barricaded himself in a home here Monday, firing a high-powered weapon at officers in a nearly nine-hour standoff before he was found dead, authorities said.
Police would not say how the suspect died and did not confirm his identity. They said officers did not fire any shots into the home and that no authorities were injured.
The discovery of the man's body ended a daylong standoff in which negotiators fruitlessly sought to communicate with the suspect, authorities' helicopters whirred overhead and officers were pinned to the ground to escape gunfire.
"This was about as dangerous as it gets," said Lt. Jim Tietz, who headed the Miami-Dade Police Department's Special Response Team on the scene.
Police said another man who had been in the home with the suspect left through a back door several hours before the standoff ended. They said the man was being questioned, though his relatives claimed he was held against his will.
"He said he was being held hostage," said Gabriel Vega, who said he was an uncle to the man. "He said the guy wouldn't let him go."
The mother of the man who came out of the house sobbed and wailed "Thank you, Jesus" after she saw him in the distance from behind yellow police tape.
The second man being sought in Saturday's shooting was arrested without incident on Monday morning, according to Miami-Dade police. He was identified as 21-year-old Samuel Mendoza, and Florida City Detective Ezra Washington said he was charged with attempted murder on a law enforcement officer, along with other firearm charges.
The incident prompted a lockdown at nearby Homestead Middle School and children at two other elementary schools were not allowed to leave unless their bus route was out of the standoff area or their parents picked them up. A schools spokesman said some 3,000 students were affected.
Police said the entire situation began around 11 p.m. Saturday when Florida City police responded to a disturbance and two men fired shots at officers. That prompted a high-speed chase in which Florida City Sgt. Barbara Barrett said both men again fired shots at officers, though no one was injured.
"Mendoza was holding himself out the window, firing his AK-47 at the officers' vehicle," Barrett said.
Mendoza's vehicle was recovered early Sunday in Florida City, police said, and they found weapons inside. Washington said a tip to a Homestead detective led authorities to a house where Mendoza had been hiding; it was not the same house where the standoff took place.
Barrett said Mendoza is the brother of Salvador Mendoza, who was convicted in 2004 in the shooting of a Homestead police officer. The shooting left the officer blinded in one eye.