The call came to Miami-Dade Police just before 2 a.m. last night: A robber with a bandanna pulled over his face and a silver handgun had just hit a Walgreens in South Dade and sped off in a white SUV. Minutes later, after a high-speed chase down Dixie Highway, police cornered the suspect, gunshots rattled the night, and the robber lay dead in his car.
It wasn't until late last night, however, that police announced his surprising identity: Jorge Santiago Tapia — a 15-year-old eighth-grader. His family suggests he had a tragic reason for trying to rob a store.
Tapia's father had recently been deported to Mexico and the family was desperate for money, his sister tells CBS4.
Details about the shootout remain sketchy this morning as detectives parse through what happened after the robbery. But the case began when Tapia barged into a Walgreens at 28875 S. Dixie Highway at 1:51 a.m., police say.
A surveillance video released by MDPD shows the teen with dark sunglasses and a bandanna covering his face as he waves a silver gun at the clerk and walks out with a pile of cash.
MDPD soon caught up with Tapia's white car, however, and cornered him at the SW 28000 block of South Dixie, where he blew a tire trying to take a corner at high speed. That's when police say the teen pulled out the gun he'd used in the robbery. Up to seven officers on the scene may have fired at the teenager, who was pronounced dead on the scene.
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It's not clear if Tapia actually fired at police; one cop car had a bullet hole in a window, but police couldn't confirm whether it came from Tapia or an officer's weapon.
In photos Tapia's family shared with CBS4 last night, the teenager smiles and cuts a cake, celebrating his 15th birthday just over a week before dying in a hail of police bullets. He had no previous criminal record, his sister tells the station.
FDLE has now taken over the investigation from MDPD. New Times has requested an update on the case this morning; we'll update this post when we get more information from FDLE.