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Frank Ordonez had been excited for his first day as a UPS delivery truck driver — but the day would take a tragic turn after robbers from a botched jewelry heist hijacked his truck, taking Ordonez on a wild police chase that ultimately killed four, including Ordonez.
Family and friends confirmed Ordonez had been one of two innocent civilians killed in the shoot-out with police along a busy Miramar highway Thursday (December 5) evening during rush hour as shocked drivers looked on, local station WFOR-TV reports.
“It was shocking,” Katherine Gonzalez told the Associated Press of watching the shootout begin “out of nowhere” from her vehicle.
FBI Special Agent in Charge George Piro said the chaotic scene began around 4:15 p.m. after two suspects tried to rob Regent Jewelers in Coral Gables, according to ABC News.
One of the employees was able to trigger the silent alarm alerting police, who arrived at the store when shots were being fired inside, Coral Gable Police Chief Ed Hudak said, according to the AP.
A female employee was injured during the melee, although it’s not clear whether she suffered a gunshot wound or some other injury.
The two suspects fled the store in a truck before hijacking the UPS delivery truck a short time later with the driver still inside, leading authorities on a wild chase through Broward County, blowing through red lights before the truck came to a stop after getting stuck in traffic.
Shocking footage of the truck and the gunfight between police and the suspects was captured by multiple news outlets, including CBS News. At least one news station covered the chase live, showing one of the vehicle’s passengers falling out of the truck.
The two suspects were killed during the gun battle along with two “innocent civilians,” Piro said.
On Friday, the FBI confirmed the identity of both suspects who were killed as Lamar Alexander, 41, and Ronnie Jerome Hill, 41, according to CBS News.
Although authorities did not identify the UPS driver by name, his family and friends later confirmed his identity to WFOR-TV. The other victim was described as an innocent bystander in a nearby vehicle.
It’s not clear whether the two innocent victims were killed by gunfire from the suspects or police.
“It is very, very early on in the investigation and it would be completely inappropriate to discuss that,” Piro said, according to the Associated Press. “We have just begun to process the crime scene. As you can imagine, this is going to be a very complicated crime scene.”
Ordonez’s brother told WFOR-TV that his 27-year-old brother had worked for UPS for five years. A coworker told the station that Ordonez was working his first day as a delivery truck driver Thursday after completing the required training.
Ordonez's brother Roy Ordonez told CNN the father of two girls, ages 3 and 6, had been covering a shift for another employee when his truck was hijacked.
Roy described his brother as "outgoing and happy." The 27-year-old loved to fish, play basketball, and play video games; however, Roy said he loved spending time with his two daughters most of all.
Shortly after he was killed, UPS issued a statement expressing its sadness over the loss.
“We are deeply saddened to learn a UPS service provider was a victim of this senseless act of violence,” the statement said, according to WFOR. “We extend our condolences to the family and friends of our employee and the other innocent victims involved in this incident. We appreciate law enforcement’s service and will cooperate with the authorities as they continue the investigation.”
While Ordonez's family continues to grapple with the devastating loss, the family of one of the suspects has also been left heartbroken by the tragedy.
Corey Smith described his brother Lamar Alexander to The Miami Herald as a 41-year-old truck driver with three children, who had just finished doing time in prison for armed robbery. He learned his brother had been involved in the shootout after getting a call from his mother, who was hysterical.
“I didn’t know he was living like that,” Smith said. “In life, you gotta make better decisions. We weren’t raised like that. I love my brother, but he’s been making bad decisions his whole life.”
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