Jesse Dunwoody, administrator of the South Pointe Manor nursing home across the street from Joe's, said he and 10 staffers watched the drama.

``I was up on the roof and I heard the shots. As soon as we heard the gunshots we all pulled back,'' Dunwoody said. ``I don't know if he had a weapon. I don't understand why they shot him.''

Another witness, who was not identified by name, told WSVN that he heard four or five shots.

``About 15 cops jumped on top of him,'' the witness said. ``He was bleeding from the upper right shoulder and it looked like from the stomach area. They dragged him onto the sidewalk and just dropped him. The officers told everyone to step back, I think, because they thought he had a bomb on him.''

The school bus was en route to Blue Lakes Elementary School in Miami when it was commandeered at an unknown location in southwest Dade County.

Metro-Dade and Florida Highway Patrol cruisers formed a convoy around the hijacked bus as it traveled from southwest Miami north on State Road 826, a major north-south highway, and then east toward downtown on State Road 836, a major east-west highway.

The hijacker then took the bus across the MacArthur Causeway linking Miami and Miami Beach and led police through the city streets of the South Beach tourist area. The bus finally stopped outside Joe's Stone Crabs, a landmark restaurant at the tip of Miami Beach.

Dozens of police cars, their red and blue lights flashing, surrounded the yellow bus and police crouched behind them, aiming weapons at the bus.

``As the bus stopped originally, we attempted to make contact, negotiate with him,'' said Pat Brickman, the Metro-Dade police spokesman. ``We're not sure of all the demands he might have been making.''

But then the bus started moving again slowly and shots were fired, Brickman said.

Police then boarded the bus and pulled the suspect off. They dragged away a man in a white shirt and dark pants.

Fraind, the schools spokesman, said the hijacker apparently commandeered the bus to draw attention to a tax dispute with the Internal Revenue Service.

``I believe the person that commandeered the bus may have an issue with the IRS, if that information is correct,'' Fraind said.

Worried parents raced to the scene in Miami Beach, along with schools Superintendent Octavio Visiedo.

``We're trying to get the parents,'' Visiedo said. ``Some of the parents are already here, and we're dealing with them right now.''