PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. -- As schoolchildren began to come home, Milton Parris set off to pick up his 5-year-old daughter. But as he left his apartment complex Tuesday, he was met by a wild-eyed gunman who demanded he stop.
"As I'm riding by him, he starts cussing," said Parris, a firefighter with Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue. "He looked deranged. He looked like he was high."
Parris ignored the man's orders, and stepped on the gas. In the rearview mirror, he saw the gunman open fire. One bullet struck his tailgate, another blew out one of his tires.
Shaken but unscathed, Parris pulled off to the side of Hiatus Road, and called 911.
It was the beginning of an anxiety-filled afternoon at Archstone Harbour Cove apartments at 1601 S. Hiatus Road. Heavily armed police swarmed the residential complex after the gunman, for unknown reasons, opened fire on three cars, according to witnesses.
The man, whose identity was not released, then "confronted the officers with a gun, causing the officers to protect themselves and discharge their firearms," said police spokeswoman Sgt. Shianynksi Morales.
Shot by police, the armed man died at the scene, perhaps taking with him the reason for his rampage.
Morales said police received several 911 calls just before 2:15 p.m. of a gunman firing at cars in the apartment complex.
Officers responded, and Parris said he helped guide them to the man.
"That's him!" he told police. Officers gave chase and eventually a SWAT team, armed with assault rifles, was deployed.
Morales said the gunman holed up briefly in an apartment building, then came out with a gun.
"They told him to 'Stop, drop your weapon,' " Parris said.
Pamela Brown, who had just picked up her granddaughter from school, saw the muzzle flashes as police opened fire. "I just saw lights," she said. "Bam, bam, bam."
The shooting stunned residents of the apartment complex, who were kept from their homes for about an hour because investigators cordoned off the entrance.
"All you could see were officers with guns," said Brown.
It was the second fatal police shooting in Pembroke Pines since June and the seventh overall for Broward County this year. The county saw eight in both 2006 and 2007, which were 10-year records.
Parris said crime is hard to escape, but he wished this incident had a different ending.
"I wish he had surrendered," he said. "They [police] did the best they could to resolve the situation but it didn't come out that way."
Brian Haas can be reached at bhaas@SunSentinel.comor 954-356-4597.
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CALLS FOR HELP
Police received several 911 calls just before 2:15 p.m. about a gunman firing at cars in the apartment complex.
It was the second fatal police shooting in Pembroke Pines since June, the seventh in the county this year.