As Miami police confronted Antonio Cardoza, armed and barricaded in his home, onlookers were slack-jawed at the sight of a tank-like vehicle with turrets and sharpshooters that was stalking the neighborhood, reports the Miami Herald. Twenty-feet long, weighing close to 8 tons, capable of nimble turns and hitting highway speeds, the imposing militarized machine appeared as negotiators tried to get Cardoza to stand down. He didn't, and was shot during an exchange of gunfire, then taken to a hospital, where he remains in stable condition. Two days later, the machine showed up in another residential neighborhood. This time, police spent more than six hours trying to talk Franklin Bain —wanted for false imprisonment and sexual battery —out of his home.
Cardoza was shot and Bain was tear-gassed from his home, but no officers were hurt in either incident —and that's the point: The Miami-Dade County Police Department's Bearcat is outfitted with enough body armor to withstand high-powered rifle shots and explosions, and carries enough weaponry to overpower most threats. The police department's use of the Bearcat appears to be top-secret. Though the machine is now being used by federal and local law enforcement throughout U.S., county cops are treating its uses with the sensitivity of a nuclear launch code. “The information you are requesting regarding the deployment, use and criteria is information that is sensitive in nature and cannot be discussed,” said Detective Elena Hernandez. The Bearcat, a ballistic engineered armored response counter attack-truck that looks like a Humvee on steroids, is operated by the department's Special Response Team, and costs a cool $250,000.