An armed man who allegedly hijacked a postal truck today and held a mail carrier hostage for four hours has surrendered to police.
The gunman, Nevia Abraham, 38, gave up less than an hour after releasing mail carrier Tanya Mitchell unharmed about 3:30 p.m., police said. Surrounded by heavily armed officers, he backed slowly out of the truck with his hands on his head and was handcuffed by police.
"He voluntarily agreed to comply with police requests to let the hostage go," police Sgt. Dennis Morales said.
Abraham held Mitchell at gunpoint and forced her to drive for 90 minutes as he tried to evade authorities in a robbery attempt, police said. At one point, Mitchell's distraught father told police, "If he [the carjacker] hurts my daughter, you take him out."
Mitchell's relatives and colleagues were relieved she was freed unharmed.
"I know all of the members of the postal family are relieved to know that she is safe and join me in sending their best wishes to her and her family. We are proud of her," Postmaster General John E. Potter said in a statement. "Her calm handling of a very difficult situation is a tribute to her professionalism and deep concern for the welfare of others."
Sparked by an Alleged Robbery Attempt
Mitchell was delivering mail on her route when she was carjacked. Miami-Dade police Detective Randy Rossman said the chase began when an anonymous caller riding in a passenger car told police two men were following her in Carol City in northwest Miami-Dade County.
When police arrived at the scene, Rossman said, Abraham — who was armed with a handgun and rifle — broke into the postal truck and fired at the officers as he took Mitchell hostage. He left his apparent partner, identified as 47-year-old Jonathan Hamilton, behind, and he was arrested and questioned by police.
Police eventually used spikes to blow out a tire and stop the truck at 183rd Street and 27th Avenue in Miami-Dade County.
Police barricaded the intersection and SWAT teams surrounded the vehicle. Police sent a robot to deliver a cell phone to the gunman after one he was reportedly using went dead. It was unclear whether the man actually took the phone. The robot also transmitted a signal back to police to help them get a closer look inside the truck.
Abraham initially used stacks of mail to build a sort of barrier on the front dashboard of the truck, apparently in an attempt to block officers' view inside. After releasing Mitchell, he brought down the barrier.
Traffic in the area was diverted and 48 schools were locked down as a precaution.
A Long, Massive Chase
At least 20 police cruisers pursued the truck, which drove for more than an hour in a roughly circular pattern around a large area, including Miami Gardens Drive, 183rd Street, Red Road, the Palmetto Expressway and streets near Pro Player Stadium.
Around 12:45 p.m., the driver broke that pattern and headed into Broward County on University Drive, neared Miramar Parkway, then turned around and drove back to Miami-Dade County.
More than an hour into the chase, police became more aggressive, attempting to block the vehicle's escape at several intersections and moving closer with cars from the rear. The driver took evasive measures, crossing the median, making U-turns and turning in complete circles.