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Kidnapping suspect with AK-47 is dead after shooting at cops near Miami airport

Miami Herald logo Miami Herald 9/21/2018 Monique O. Madan And Sarah Blaskey
File photo of Miami-Dade police cars in West Kendall, Fla. © Roberto Koltun/El Nuevo Herald/MCT/Getty Images File photo of Miami-Dade police cars in West Kendall, Fla.

A man who was at the center of an armed kidnapping FBI case was shot and killed late Thursday by police after he fired at several officers with an assault rifle, police said.

Rapid gunfire erupted near Northwest 72nd Avenue and Seventh Street - just blocks away from Miami International Airport. Police officials said City of Miami police and Miami-Dade police were working with the FBI in an ongoing kidnapping case when the shooting happened.

"The FBI was investigating a fugitive case. The suspect of this investigation fled the scene. And he was armed," FBI spokesman Brian Waterman told reporters early Friday. "He [the suspect] was involved in a hate crime investigation."

During the police pursuit, the "the subject began to shoot at the officers and there was an exchange of gunfire," according to Miami police spokesperson Kiara Delva. The subject was shot and died on the scene.

Investigators remain on the scene Friday morning, and morning traffic delays are expected. Drivers are advised to seek alternative routes.

In video taken from a nearby balcony Thursday night, dozens of gunshots are heard blasting in the dark as a woman screams "Oh my God, oh my God!" Flashing police lights were at the center of the barrage of bullets in what sounded like a war zone.

The identity of the gunman is being withheld pending next of kin notification, and details about who was kidnapped was not provided by police or the FBI. Officials did not say how many shots were fired.

Miami-Dade police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta said he didn't have much detail about the incident but said there was a chase and that none of the officers involved or nearby bystanders were hurt.

"He did shoot at our officers and we returned fire," Zabaleta said.

A high-powered rifle was recovered on the scene, according to Delva.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced the news at a late-night budget hearing downtown. He said a shooter with an "AK-47" was dead after an "exchange of gunfire" near the airport.

Senior administrators of the Miami-Dade Police Department had left the meeting minutes before as the shooting incident unfolded, rushing to scene.

Under the light of a helicopter, bystanders told the Miami Herald that at least three sedans crashed on Northwest Seventh Street.

"[It sounded like] gunshots. A lot of gunshots. Boom, boom, boom," one man said. "Like a machine gun, like an AK-47."

Alma Aguirre, a woman who lives near where the shooting happened, said she watched the chaotic scene from her balcony. "It was like a war," she said in Spanish, noting that police and helicopters were following the suspect's vehicle.

Aguirre told the Herald that dozens of police cars rushed down Northwest Seventh Street. It began on 57th Avenue and ended near 72nd Avenue, she added.

"There was a car chase," Aguirre said. "They were exchanging fire until police surrounded them. It looked like a war."

As of late Thursday night, police would only confirm that there was one suspect involved.

Miami Herald staff writers Douglas Hanks and Charles Rabin contributed to this report.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

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