Police officers are shown near the location of a shootout that erupted in a Miami neighborhood on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011, killing two Miami-Dade police officers and a suspect, authorities said. Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez said the first officer had been shot once and died at the scene. The second officer, who was shot several times, was taken to a hospital and later died, Alvarez said. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Officers were working with a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force.
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MIAMI - 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 Mayor Carlos Alvarez said the first officer had been shot once and died at the scene. The second officer, who was shot several times, was taken to a hospital and later died, Alvarez said. The officers and suspect were not immediately identified.
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.
"This unit is very well-trained, very well-armed, and highly protects itself," said Alvarez, a former police officer. "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."
Miami-Dade Police detective Edna Hernandez said a third officer was being treated at a hospital for minor injuries.
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.
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.