UPS Driver Hostage Killed in Florida Shootout Was Covering a Route for Another Employee, Says Brother
UPS worker Frank Ordonez was covering a coworker’s delivery route on Thursday when he was shot and killed in a shootout between robbers who hijacked his truck and police.
Though his normal route took Frank through Coconut Grove in Miami, on Thursday he was driving through neighboring Coral Gables, the Washington Post reported, when chaos struck and tragedy ensued after two burglars hijacked Frank’s truck and took him hostage as they led police on a wild chase that ended in a fatal shootout in rush-hour traffic.
Frank’s brother, Roy Ordonez, told CNN that Frank was an “outgoing and happy” father of two girls, ages 3 and 6.
“Most of all, what Frank really liked to do is spend time with his daughters,” Roy said, adding that his 27-year-old brother also enjoyed fishing and playing basketball and video games.
Roy is one of several organizers to create GoFundMe campaigns to raise money for his brother’s funeral and for his nieces’ future.
“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,” Roy wrote on his campaign page, adding that Frank’s oldest daughter, Hailey, sees a speech therapist and UPS had been helping to cover the cost.
Roy also criticized the police’s response to the hectic situation, which is currently under investigation by the FBI.
“The armed suspects engaged law enforcement, opened fire, there was exchanged fire between law enforcement and the suspects and unfortunately the suspects are now deceased, but two additional innocent civilians were also deceased,” FBI special agent George Piro said in a press conference on Thursday night.
Piro added that it would be “completely inappropriate” to discuss whether or not Frank and another bystander who was killed in the crossfire had been hit with bullets from police or the burglars.
The two suspects, who also died in the shootout, have been identified as Lamar Alexander, 41, and Ronnie Jerome Hill, also 41, the FBI said.
When reached by PEOPLE on Friday, a spokesperson for the FBI said they had no comment beyond what was said at the Thursday press conference.
On Thursday afternoon, Alexander and Hill robbed Regent Jewelers in Coral Gables, local police told CNN. At least one woman in the jewelry store was injured during the robbery, and at least one bullet made its way across the street through a window of the Coral Gables City Hall, The Miami Herald reported.
When Alexander and Hill fled the scene, they hijacked Frank’s UPS truck as their getaway vehicle, bringing Frank along as a hostage as they led police on a miles-long chase from Coral Gables into Miramar, where the truck was eventually forced to stop because of gridlocked traffic.
A shootout followed — though it’s unclear if the first shots fired came from the burglars or from law enforcement — killing both Alexander and Hill as well as Frank and another unidentified bystander who was sitting in an idle car.
CBS Miami reported at least 20 officers on the scene, and police said that no officers were injured in the crossfire.
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Frank’s sister Sara also created a GoFundMe for her brother, writing in an emotional post, “Every step he took was for his daughters, he wanted to give them the best future and for them to never need anything from others, he wanted to be their provider.”
“He was a great son, and amazing brother and wonderful father. All he wanted was to see his daughters grow,” Sara wrote. “You will forever rest in our memories.”
The tragedy of Frank’s death has touched the UPS community outside of Florida, as well.
A UPS driver in New York also set up a fundraising page after hearing about Frank’s untimely death on the job.
“As a fellow driver, I’d like to help out Frank’s family in this time of need with any expenses related to this horrible event,” Ray Mathers wrote on the campaign page, explaining that he was working with the union in Florida to disperse the money raised. “Let’s help Frank Ordonez’s family in this tragic time and show some support from those who wear brown as well as friends and family of UPSers.”
In a statement issued on Thursday night, UPS said they “are deeply saddened to learn a UPS service provider was a victim of this senseless act of violence.”
“We extend our condolences to the family and friends of our employee and the other innocent victims involved in this incident,” the statement continued. “We appreciate law enforcement’s service and will cooperate with the authorities as they continue the investigation.”