Frank Ordonez was named by his brother as the UPS driver who was killed during a wild police chase in Florida that unfolded after jewelry thieves seeking diamonds hijacked his truck and took Ordonez hostage. Ordonez was a young father remembered for his work ethic, and serious questions remain about how he was slain; his furious brother claims that police shot Ordonez.
Nineteen officers from five agencies fired into the UPS truck, and the number of rounds expended could exceed 200, according to CBS Miami, which added that Ordonez was “on his knees.” The robbers have now been identified as Lamar Alexander and Ronnie Jerome Hill.
Four people lay dead by the time the dust cleared; Ordonez, another innocent bystander (identified as Richard Cutshaw, 70, a union official), and the two robbers. Outrage flooded social media from people who watched the frightening police pursuit unfold live on television and who believe that law enforcement needlessly endangered – and maybe even took – Ordonez’s life. “The cops killed Frank Ordonez on live tv and endangered the lives of so many other bystanders over stolen jewelry,” wrote one angry woman on Twitter, echoing the thoughts of others.
The FBI says it’s not yet clear whose bullet ended the UPS driver’s life. They did not rule out a police bullet, however; the FBI’s special agent in charge of the Miami office said in a news conference that it was too early to know. (The next morning, an unrelated active shooter incident broke out at NAS Pensacola, where three people died with more wounded.)
Frank’s brother Roy has set up a GoFundMe page to help Ordonez’s family.
“My brother frank ordonez was killed by police officers on 12/5/2019, when two robbers hijacked the USP truck he was driving,” Roy Ordonez wrote on the GoFundMe page. “They kidnapped my brother and took him on a high speed chase, when they came to a stop he was gun down like a criminal by the Florida police. he didn’t deserve to die the way he did, he was just going to work to provide for his two little girls, which he loved so much. which are now left without a father…”
According to the Miami Herald, the police union says at least “11 officers from the department opened fire” during the UPS truck pursuit, but the robbers “started firing first.”
“It’s unfortunate that the bystanders were killed, but the bad guys put all this in motion,” said Steadman Stahl, president of the Miami-Dade Police Benevolent Association, to the newspaper.
“The victim I’m told is Frank Ordonez, a beloved UPS driver who was just 27 yrs old,” journalist Amber Diaz wrote on Twitter. Ordonez was also named as the deceased UPS driver by Teamsters branches in other states. Diaz shared an earlier post that she wrote was from Roy Ordonez. Authorities have not yet confirmed Ordonez’s name.
Roy Ordonez wrote in the post, “Oh frank…you know Ill always love you. More then (sic) anything in this world my best friend my brother. I know these last years were really tough on you, thank you for always being there for me. You always wanted the best for me and you know I’d do anything for you. I feel like I’m dreaming, frank I need you so much bro. born on July 27 1992 and a year after on the same day I was born. Died at the age of 27…you always told me the number 7 followed you everywhere. Now I truly believe you, rest in heaven I love you. I won’t stop until their (sic) is justice for your life, the police killed my brother and they must be held accountable.”
He also wrote, “the police killed my brother and they are trying to cover it up.”
Be forewarned that some of the videos in this article are disturbing. The most graphic appears to show a man, possibly Ordonez (but that’s not confirmed), being shot and falling out of the truck. Heavy is not including that video in this article, but it’s one reason people are so outraged. In the interest of establishing accountability regarding who shot Frank Ordonez, you can watch the video here if you deem it necessary, but it’s very troubling. According to ABC 7, the fourth victim “was in a nearby vehicle when shots rang out at a crowded intersection.”
In a statement, UPS said it was “deeply saddened to learn a UPS service provider was a victim of this senseless act of violence.” Some people are angry at UPS for also writing “we appreciate law enforcement’s service,” with one person sarcastically writing back, “We thank the police for murdering our driver and another completely innocent person.” A friend wrote on Ordonez’s Facebook page, “Man noooo wtf.”
In 2010, Ordonez wrote on Facebook, “the Sacrifices you make in life will take you to a great one doesent (sic) matter how hard it gets its a great FACT.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ordonez, Who Was Remembered as a ‘Hard Working Young Man,’ Was Taken Hostage After a Robbery at a Coral Gables Jewelry Store
George Piro, special agent in charge of the Miami field office for the FBI, said in a December 5, 2019 press conference that the crime spree began at the Regent Jewelry Store in Coral Gables, Florida around 4:15 p.m.
“Two armed individuals” robbed the jewelry store. “As the individuals were fleeing, shots were fired, and it (the robbery) was reported across the street at the City Hall in Coral Gables,” Piro said.
“As the suspects fled the area, they hijacked a UPS truck and kidnapped the driver,” said Piro, adding that authorities located the truck, “which resulted in a high speed pursuit.” The chase wound through Dade and Broward Counties, ending in Miramar. A woman wrote on Facebook that she was there. “didn’t kno what was going on all I seen was the police jumping out of cars with guns the police ran to my car told me to get out of here n all u hear was (g)un shots n seem gun smoke I was on the phone wit my grandma n all u hear her yelling what’s going on get away from there I was soooooo scared,” she wrote.
Josh Zivalich, President of Teamsters Local 769, wrote: “It is with a heavy heart that I write this statement this evening. We are heartbroken by the tragic events from earlier today regarding one of our Teamsters Local 769 members (UPS Driver), who was carjacked while doing his job.”
He added: “He was ultimately victimized in a shootout after a lengthy police pursuit with the carjackers. The cowardly actions of the criminals involved that chose to kidnap this hard working young man to give themselves some type of ‘cover’ or ‘shield’ are precisely the opposite of what Teamster men and women are and stand for. We pray for the family of this young man, and as further information is available we will of course provide those details for Teamster members to show and provide support to his family.”
The GoFundMe page reads, “A fellow UPS driver was the unfortunate victim of a hijacking, resulting in a tragic death. Let’s help Frank Odoñez’s family in this tragic time and show some support from Local 804 New York.”
A woman wrote: “My heart is broken today. I’m still in disbelief. RIP, Frank. Even though I haven’t seen you in years you were always so nice and down to earth.”
2. Ordonez Was Father to Two Young Children & Wrote on Facebook That His ‘Love for You Will Pass Forever,’ Referring to His Daughter
Ordonez filled his Facebook page with pictures of his young child. “I wanna wish my baby a happy birthday today she’s turning 1 and grown so fast yet it feels like you were born just yesterday thank you for been so loving and caring hailey I love you,” he wrote with one post from 2015.
“My love for you will pass forever,” he wrote on Facebook with another picture. “Kid: The perfect date ?,” he wrote another time. And: “Disney on ice just because I love you…She’s getting so big.”
He called her “My lil best friend” and wrote “My daughters perfect.” Ordonez also leaves behind a second child, also a young girl.
According to Roy Ordonez, “Frank leaves behind two daughters with the ages of 3 and 6. this go fund me account is raise money for a Lawyer, to cover funeral cost and to help his little daughters school cost. his oldest daughter Hailey sees a speech therapist which UPS payed a potion of. PLEASE SHARE AND MAKE PEOPLE AWARE OF TRIGGER HAPPY POLICE OFFICERS. they could have killed many more people, could have been one of your loved ones. please don’t let my brothers death be for nothing. police need to be held accountable.”
According to Piro, it was “very early in the investigative process; a lot of questions are still unanswered. We will be working through the night.” He said authorities still needed to process the crime scene.
“Condolences go to the families of the deceased of today’s unfortunate incident,” he said.
He added that it was “going to be a very complicated crime scene.” There were multiple crime scenes, including the jewelry store. He added: “The suspects did fire on law enforcement as they were evading law enforcement.”
The robbery occurred at 4:14 p.m. and the hijacking was at 4:36 p.m., according to Piro.
3. Miami-Raised Ordonez Used to Work as a Warehouse Lead & Disturbing Videos Captured the Chase & Gun Battle as Horrified People Prayed for the Hostage
“Works at UPS,” Ordonez wrote on Facebook. He posted several photos indicating he enjoyed fishing at Key West. His page provided the following biographical information for him:
• Worked at Eagle Maritime Services
• Former Warehouse Lead at Floor & Decor
• Studied at Miami Dade Community College
• Went to Barbara Goleman High School
• Lives in Hialeah Gardens, Florida
• From Miami, Florida
In 2014, he wrote, “I try and find my friends, but they’re blowin in the wind……” One woman who donated to the GoFundMe wrote, “I love you Frank and will always miss you my friend. You had such a pure heart and were such a great father, your daughters will know that and how hard working you were for them.”
A series of wild citizen cell phone videos flooded Twitter. Some captured the sound of gunfire and innocent bystanders ducking for cover. “I prayed the entire time watching the chase on tv that the UPS driver didn’t get shot … ?” wrote one woman who watched it all unfold live.
Piro said that the suspects engaged law enforcement and “opened fire…there was exchanged fire between law enforcement and the suspects.”
Two innocent bystanders lost their lives, he confirmed, although he didn’t name them. “Unfortunately the suspects are now deceased but two additional innocent civilians were also deceased,” said Piro, who added that the “FBI is leading the investigative effort.”
Ordonez’s death shook many people. “As a delivery person, my heart goes out to the family & loved ones of Frank Ordonez. Work you a*s off all day & maybe never make it home. RIP,” a man wrote on Twitter.
4. People on Social Media Were Outraged That the Police Fired at the UPS Truck With a Hostage Inside It; the FBI Wouldn’t Answer Whether the Police Shot the Driver & Bystander, Saying It Was Too Early to Say
Social media outrage was swift, criticizing the police for shooting at the UPS truck with a hostage inside of it. Many noted that the pursuit and shootout occurred during rush hour traffic.
“You don’t unload with so many civilians around and a hostage. They had zero regard for that UPS drivers life, zero regard for all the life’s of people in traffic. If that UPS driver was your family member, you wouldn’t think it was ok,” one person wrote on Twitter.
Radio host Enrique Santos called the UPS driver a “hard-working family man who’s life was taken in such a violent way. I’m disgusted.”
“F*ck all the senseless officers involved in the shooting in Miramar/Coral Gables. Today two innocent ppl were taken from their families and for what? Jewelry, money, selfishness of those who sought to protect others. Rip to Frank Ordonez and the innocent bystander,” wrote one woman.
“The cops killed him. An innocent man that was just doing his job and trying to survive what he got dragged into by others RIP Frank Ordóñez and the other innocent bystander,” wrote another.
However, another woman wrote on Facebook, “This is my home. Literally. Miramar Parkway is where I live and drive ALL day. I was running late from the Dr. and would have been here exactly at this time. My heart hurts for the innocent lives lost. I can hear the police from my house (that’s how close I am). God be with the UPS driver Frank Ordonez’s family and the other innocent bystander in her car. People may argue about what could have been done differently by the officers, but this devastation was the sole cause of the coward robbers…they are the responsible ones who stole lives today- period!”
Piro was asked whether it was possible that a police bullet killed the UPS driver and bystander, but he said it was too early to say either way. “It’s very early on in the investigation, and it would be completely inappropriate to discuss that. We have just began to process the crime scene,” he said.
5. People Expressed Grief for Frank Ordonez on Social Media, Saying He ‘Went to Work Today Not Expecting Anything Out of the Ordinary’
People who were strangers to Ordonez also offered condolences for his family. “Rest In Peace Frank Ordonez, he went to work today not expecting anything out of the ordinary and now his family is left having to grieve their loss during Christmas…” wrote one woman on Twitter.
“Rip to Frank ordonez. A REAL ONE! Working hard for his family only to have his vehicle hijacked by scumbags and then get shot and killed by police! F*ck! This makes me so mad,” wrote a woman on Twitter.