Alleged shoplifter drowns in canal near Dadeland Mall - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Alleged shoplifter drowns in canal near Dadeland Mall

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Miami-Dade Police recovering the man's body from the canal. Miami-Dade Police recovering the man's body from the canal.

KENDALL, Fla. (WSVN) -- A South Florida canal turned into a crime scene Saturday after a man drowned while trying to evade authorities, officials said.

Miami-Dade Police said the tragic incident occurred just before 7 p.m., minutes after, investigators said, security officers at Dadeland Mall reported seeing the subject shoplifting inside a store.

Police said, as the alleged shoplifter was attempting to escape security officers, he ran towards a canal located behind the shopping center. "Once the subject saw sight of the officers, he fled northbound to the rear canal of Dadeland Mall," said Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta.

The subject, Zabaleta continued, "jumped into the canal in an attempt to swim to the other side. Unfortunately, halfway through, the officer saw him go under."

Police said the man never made it to the other side. Officers set up a large perimeter on Southwest 85th Street as they conducted their investigation.

Photographs taken by a 7News viewer captured the moment rescue divers pulled the man's body from the water. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Investigators said it remains unclear what caused the subject to go under. "They noticed he was swimming pretty good," said Zabaleta. "Right about at the halfway part is when he went under, so it's hard to say what happened to him. That's why these canals are very dangerous, because you don't know the depth, you don't know the current, you don't know what's going on under them."

Officials did not specify which store the subject had reportedly targeted or what kind of merchandise he allegedly stole.

Miami-Dade Police officers and homicide detectives remained at the scene of the drowning for several hours as they conducted their investigation.

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