Officer continues to recover following shooting
MIAMI (WSVN) -- An undercover Miami-Dade police officer remains hospitalized in stable condition Thursday, after he was shot several times in a gunfight that left a suspect dead.
Officer John Saavedra, 34, is recovering at Jackson Memorial Hospital after being shot three times in his abdomen. However, residents living in the Southwest Miami-Dade neighborhood where the shooting happened, around 7 p.m. Tuesday, have been left on edge, their sense of security shattered. "Unfortunately, our officer was shot, but it could have easily been the boy next door playing in his front yard," said Miami-Dade Police Lt. Rosanna Cordero-Stutz at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
According to police, they had the home where the shooting occurred, at Southwest 60th Avenue and 23rd Street, under surveillance for several days. The shooting occurred after police went out to investigate a tip regarding narcotics activity at the house. "The individual who was eventually identified as Luis Lazaro Estevanell began to flee back into the home," said Cordero-Stutz. "At the same time that this is occurring, a short distance away, there is a white BMW."
Police said Gerardo Delgado Sr., 56, was in that car and fired at the officers outside the house. Saavedra was hit and police returned fire, killing Delgado.
Evidence of the shooting was apparent in the shattered glass, damaged cars and bullet holes left on a tree trunk in front of the home. Loved ones of Delgado Sr. said he did not deserve to die the way her did. "My father was murdered by police last night," said a choked up Geraldo Delgado Jr., the deceased suspect's son. "What happened was a strange man was looking around, and my father came out to protect his property, and the strange man turned out to be a police officer that murdered him on the spot."
The Delgado family said, the deceased had no criminal history, and Miami-Dade County police records confirmed that. "The people that were living here were good people, decent people, and there was no reason for this," said a woman who would not show her face on camera.
At the news conference, police showed images of the Colt .380 Delgado allegedly fired and some images of the 80 pounds of marijuana uncovered inside the home. "I can tell you that inside the residence they were in various stages of growth, so they had from seedlings to full plants," said Cordero-Stutz.
The question remains why Delgado came out firing at police, and police continue to investigate. "It's apparent that he could have been protecting this stash of marijuana with street value of $90,000 a year-- could be a profitable business," said Cordero-Stutz. "Unfortunately, though, we don't exactly know."
The other suspect remains behind bars charged with second degree felony murder, trafficking marijuana, possession of place/manufacture controlled substance and possession of cocaine.
The officer, meanwhile is able to sit up and is talking to friends and loved ones. "There's no question we're fortunate we're not dealing with another loss," said Miami-Dade Police Detective Roy Rutland. "We've had so many."
Less than three hours after Saavedra was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital and rushed into surgery, he was able to talk with his wife. Police said he was shot just below the bulletproof vest he was wearing. "Everything worked out well for him," said Dr. Marc Grossman. "You're never lucky to be shot, of course, especially in his line of work, but he should be doing fine."
Saavedra is no stranger to shootings, however. In October of 2004, he shot and killed Randy Baker who overpowered a female officer then struck her with her own baton. "That individual, however, had already knocked one of the female officers unconscious and was beating her in the head with her own expandable baton," said Cordero-Stutz. "When John arrived, he had to take action, and he did in fact shoot and kill that individual. He was honored by the PBA for his actions of probably saving both of those officers."
There is no date set yet for the detective's release from the hospital. Miami-Dade Police said, in his file he has several commendations and no reprimands.
(Copyright 2012 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)