Slain bystander in Florida UPS shootout grew up in Dalton

Richard Steven Cutshaw.

MIRAMAR, Fla. — Four people were fatally shot following a jewelry store heist that led police on a high-speed chase across multiple county lines ending in a shootout in rush-hour traffic. Among those slain was an innocent bystander with roots in the Berkshires.
Last Thursday, two armed men robbed a South Florida jewelry store and fled in a flurry of gunfire, George Piro, an FBI special agent with the Miami Field Office, said in a press conference in Miramar, Florida, last week.
As the suspects fled the area, they hijacked and kidnapped a UPS truck and driver. As law enforcement encountered the suspects, the pursuit turned into a high-speed chase through Miami-Dade County and Broward County, ending in the city of Miramar, Florida, during rush-hour traffic.
“The armed suspects engaged in open fire with law enforcement,” said Piro. “There was exchange fire and unfortunately, the suspects are now deceased, but two additional innocent civilians were also deceased.”
Though it’s still too early in the investigation to confirm specific details of what played out, one of the slain was a bystander caught in the traffic jam at the intersection of Miramar Parkway and Flamingo Road, according to Juan Perez, director of Miami-Dade Police Department.
“Two innocent lives were lost at this whole chaotic incident, a tragedy that should have never taken place,” said Perez. “We empathize with those losses.”
That bystander has since been identified by the Broward County Medical Examiner’s office as 70-year-old Richard “Rick” Steven Cutshaw of Pembroke Pines, Florida and a native of Dalton.
Watching TV news unfold over the past week, Edmond Lyon of Pittsfield says he recognized Cutshaw. The pair used to be the “best of friends,” he said.
“Gosh, he was the nicest guy in the world. We used to book bands and run college mixers together when we were in our 20s,” said Lyon, noting that he and Cutshaw had matching Monte Carlos. “His father and mother used to live on Sunnyside Drive in Dalton.”
Lyon went to Pittsfield High School and Cutshaw went to Wahconah Regional High School, he said. Lyon described Cutshaw as very “polished” even in his youth and managed to get a job with the United Foods and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), he said.
“We were inseparable for a few years. We just lost touch after he got a great job with the union. We were good friends up until that point,” he said. “I was completely shocked when I saw the news.”
Similarly, Brian Griffin of Lanesborough recognized Cutshaw as his supervisor at Stop & Shop Supermarket on Merrill Road in Pittsfield in the 1970s. Cutshaw often organized a lot of picnics, dances and social gatherings, said Griffin.
“Rick was so outgoing and friendly. He had a gregarious personality and had a large group of friends,” he said. “Rick’s social skills and organizing ability proved to be a great asset in his future career with the union. We are all saddened by his loss and will miss his infectious smile.”
In addition to working a number of years with UFCW Local 1459, Cutshaw moved to Florida, where he served with Local 100 for the past 18 years.
There, he represented more than 2,500 Miramar, Florida, government supervisory employees in Broward County, Naples, Port St. Lucie, Miami Dade and at Jackson Memorial Hospital, according to a statement issued by The Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), AFL-CIO. OPEIU represents employees and independent contractors in credit unions, hospitals and medical clinics, insurance, higher education, transportation, shipping, utilities, hotels and administrative offices.
“Rick was a true professional who cared deeply about the working people he represented,” said OPEIU Vice President and Local 100 President Greg Blackman in a statement. “I never saw him without a big smile on his face, always willing to do whatever it took to improve the lives and working conditions of our members.
“The loss of such a vibrant, knowledgeable labor representative is not just a loss for us, but for the entire labor movement. He will be deeply missed,” Blackman continued.
OPEIU also offered condolences to Cutshaw’s family, including his five brothers and sisters as well as his 99-year-old mother.
Several unions throughout the country offered condolences on Cutshaw’s passing as well as a number of co-workers.
“Godspeed Rick. You were such a fine union advocate. And I’m a better lawyer for having worked by your side on cases since the 90s,” Marcus Braswell wrote via Facebook.
“I spent many hours with Rick during my time with BCt. He was a gentleman, he was a kind man and he was a good man,” Peter M. Wolz wrote via Facebook. “What a tragic outcome to a terrible situation.”
Law enforcement is still seeking public comment to the ongoings of the Thursday, Dec. 5 incident as part of their investigation.

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