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In a tragic and confounding turn for one of the nation’s largest police forces, Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez  turned his weapon on himself, authorities said Monday.

Ramirez, 52, remained in critical but stable condition with serious head injuries at Tampa General Hospital, FDLE Commissioner Mark Glass said. 

The Miami-Dade Police Department of 4,100 employees, the largest in the Southeast, steadied itself for new leadership with Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava naming Assistant Director Stephanie Daniels as interim director.

Miami-Dade Police Spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta said rank-and-file officers are in shock.

“Obviously, this has affected us dearly. It has been heartfelt — not only the Miami-Dade Police Department but the entire Miami Dade County,”  Zabaleta said. “The director was well-liked throughout the entire community.“

Ramirez was running to become Miami-Dade sheriff as a Democrat next year after voters decided the appointed position would become an elected one. He appeared on the Independent’s Anti-Social podcast in May.

He was in Tampa  with his wife to attend the 2023 Florida Sheriffs Association summer conference.

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Details started to emerge in a late afternoon Monday news conference held by Glass and a statement released by the Tampa Police Department. 

Tampa officers were dispatched to the Marriott Water Street hotel at 6:30 p.m. Sunday where the conference was being held after getting reports of a man pointing a gun at himself. FDLE described it as  “a domestic dispute”

As officers arrived on the 12th floor, they witnessed a woman walk out of a hotel room followed by Ramirez. Ramirez told officers he and the woman – believed to be his wife Jody – had an argument.

Ramirez denied displaying a firearm. “After additional questioning, Ramirez stated he had no intention to harm himself or others,” according to the statement by Tampa Police Spokesman Eddy Durkin.

“There was no evidence of a crime or immediate danger. Ramirez was released at the scene,” Durkin said.

Glass, the FDLE chief, said later that evening, Ramirez pulled over on Interstate 75 at Mile Marker 244, near Apollo Beach. The investigation shows Ramirez suffered from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, he said.

“Today is a tragic day in Florida,” Glass said.

Part of the investigation, being handled by Florida Highway Patrol and FDLE, will look into whether Ramirez should have been detained for his own safety under Florida’s Baker Act during the initial encounter at the hotel.

Tampa police said there were no witnesses or corroborating video surveillance showing Ramirez had brandished a gun or threatened to shoot himself at the Marriott. 

Mayor Levine Cava traveled to Tampa to be with Ramirez and his family in the hospital

“All that matters right now is Chief Ramirez’s wellbeing, and I join his family, his loved ones, and all his Miami-Dade Police Department and Miami-Dade County family in praying for his swift recovery,” Levine Cava said.

Key Biscayne Police Chief Frank Sousa said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the director and his family during this difficult time.”

Steadman Stahl, president of South Florida Police Benevolent Association, said he is still hearing bits and pieces of what happened.

“We are asking that everybody please keep him in your prayers, his family in your prayers,” Stahl said.

Ramirez, who joined Miami-Dade Police in 1995, was named by Levine Cava to run the police force in 2020. The mayor last year also put him in charge of the fire department.

“Law enforcement is a demanding and stressful career and occupation,” Glass said. “Director Ramirez has dedicated nearly 30 years of his life to public service and keeping the citizens of Miami-Dade safe.”

John Pacenti

JOHN PACENTI is a correspondent of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.

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JOHN PACENTI is a correspondent of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.