2 officers, suspect killed during Miami shootout

January 20, 2011 2:05:57 PM PST
A shootout erupted Thursday in a notoriously crime-ridden section of Miami as a team of heavily armed law enforcement agents tried to serve a warrant, leaving two officers and a suspect dead, authorities said.

Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus said the first officer, 21-year veteran Roger Castillo, had been shot once and died at the scene. The second officer, 23-year veteran Amanda Haworth, was taken to a hospital and later died from several gunshot wounds, Loftus said. Loftus said officers killed the suspect, 23-year-old Johnny Simms, who had been armed with a handgun.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez said a squad of Miami-Dade police officers - who are part of the career criminal unit of the warrants division - was serving a homicide warrant in the city's impoverished Liberty City neighborhood. Loftus said officers knew Simms was inside the home - a duplex with bars on the windows - and told him to come out.

"This unit is very well-trained, very well-armed, and highly protects itself," said Alvarez, a former police chief. "So they know what they're doing. It was just a tragic incident that we see here too often in Miami-Dade, of a violent suspect who could care less."

Loftus said a third officer, Deidree Beecher, was being treated at a hospital for a knee injury.

Several people were being questioned, but no arrests have been made, Loftus said.

"Our worst nightmare was visited upon us again today," Loftus said. "Two angels from our police department were murdered today. They were murdered by someone who had murdered someone else."

Barry Golden, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service in South Florida, said the officers were working with a Marshals fugitive task force. The task force works to arrest people wanted for crimes from all over the country. He didn't immediately have details on what the task force had been working on Thursday.

All the officers were wearing body armor and had clear police identification on them, Loftus said.

John Rivera, president of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association, said in an e-mail that the fallen officers were heroes.

"These two officers were loving family members, friends and our neighbors. They wanted to serve their community and make it a better, safer place for all of us," Rivera said.

Two schools had been placed on lockdown as residents waited outside their homes in the neighborhood. Streets were blocked off with police tape as U.S. marshals walked the streets in riot gear.

Liberty City was named for a housing project built in the 1930s for poor African-Americans. The area has never fully recovered from years of simmering racial tension and riots.