The chief of public safety for Miami-Dade County, Fla., suffered serious head injuries from a self-inflicted gunshot late on Sunday and was hospitalized in Tampa, the authorities said on Monday.
Alfredo Ramirez III, who serves in a dual role as the public safety chief and the director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, the largest police department in the Southeast, was in critical but stable condition on Monday, officials from Miami-Dade County and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.
The police department said Chief Ramirez underwent surgery in Tampa on Sunday night and again on Monday afternoon. The office of Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County said she had traveled to Tampa overnight to to be with the chief’s family.
“All that matters right now is Chief Ramirez’s well-being,” Ms. Levine Cava said, “and I join his family, his loved ones and all of his Miami-Dade Police Department and Miami-Dade County family in praying for his swift recovery.”
Chief Ramirez, 52, who is known as Freddy, suffered the injury on Interstate 75 south of Tampa, near mile marker 244, according to the F.D.L.E, which is investigating the incident along with the Florida Highway Patrol. No one else was injured.
“Law enforcement is a demanding and stressful career and occupation,” Mark Glass, the F.D.L.E. commissioner, said during a brief news conference on Monday afternoon in Tampa, praising Chief Ramirez’s “stellar” career. “Today is a tragic day in Florida.”
Chief Ramirez was attending a summer conference of the Florida Sheriffs Association, which began in Tampa on Sunday. The Tampa Police Department said on Monday afternoon that officers had responded to a report just after 6:30 p.m. on Sunday of a man with a gun outside the downtown Marriott hotel where the sheriffs were meeting. Commissioner Glass called it a “possible domestic dispute.”
Officers “were provided thirdhand information alleging a male had pointed a gun at himself,” the Tampa police said in a statement.
The man was identified as Chief Ramirez. Officers went to the chief’s 12th-floor hotel room, where he told them he had been involved in an argument with a woman but “had not displayed a firearm,” the statement by the Tampa police said. “After additional questioning, Ramirez stated he had no intention to harm himself or others.”
The statement said the woman who had argued with Chief Ramirez also told the officers that “she did not have any concerns about her safety being in danger.” The Tampa police did not name the woman in the statement.
One person with knowledge of the incident confirmed reports by The Miami Herald, CBS Miami, NBC Miami and WPLG Local 10, an ABC News affiliate in Miami, that the chief was attending the conference in Tampa with his wife.
Asked if the Tampa police should have taken steps to seize Chief Ramirez’s gun, Mark Brutnell, the special agent in charge of the F.D.L.E.’s Tampa office, said that question was “part of our investigation.”
“We’re so early in this, I can’t really speak to that at this point,” he said.
Chief Ramirez’s position as the director of the Miami-Dade Police is appointed; he was selected for the job by Ms. Levine Cava in January 2020. The department has more than 4,700 employees and an operating budget of more than $850 million.
After next year’s elections, the job will change to become an independently elected sheriff’s position, as it is in Florida’s other 66 counties. Chief Ramirez filed paperwork in May to run for sheriff as a Democrat.
He has spent more than 25 years with the department, according to his official biography.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.
Kitty Bennett contributed research.