Key Biscayne Police Officer Nelia Real remains in serious condition at Memorial Regional Hospital, Police Chief Charles Press said Friday afternoon. He said that Real was able to write him a note to brief him on her encounter with the gunman from Thursday's Florida's Turnpike shooting when he was with her Friday morning.
The FBI identified the supect behind the shooting of two South Florida officers on Florida's Turnpike, as the wounded cops remained hospitalized Friday.
The suspect was identified as David Edwin Bradley, 23, of Miami Gardens, the FBI said.
They were also asking anyone who had information about his activities on Thursday to contact them at 305-944-9101. They also released photos earlier Friday showing him during the robbery of a Pembroke Pines barbershop shortly before the encounter on the Turnpike near Hollywood Boulevard.
Bradley had several charges on his criminal record in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties, but most were for relatively minor offenses such as marijuana possession and loitering, court records show. There were no violent crimes on his record.
Meanwhile, Key Biscayne Police Officer Nelia Real remained in serious condition at Memorial Regional Hospital and will remain sedated for the next week after she was shot in the neck by the gunman.
Real will be kept sedated until doctors can establish the extent of the wounds in her neck and facial area, Key Biscayne Police Chief Charles Press said Thursday.
Press said Friday afternoon that Real, a 16-year Key Biscayne Police veteran, was able to write him a note to brief him on her encounter with the gunman when he was with her Friday morning.
“She is aware of all the family around her, and she is a very, very strong person, a strong-willed person, and if anybody can fight the good fight, Nellie can," he said.
Press said he and doctors "are cautiously optimistic of a long-term recovery."
Real is in charge of the department's traffic unit, focusing on traffic safety, including children's bicycle safety, and is probably the best-known police officer of the 30 on the force in Key Biscayne, Press said.
Real also leads the department's DUI enforcement, and was set to receive an award from MADD on Monday, he said.
An Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, identified Friday as Assistant Field Office Director Gabriel Martinez, was also shot in the shoulder and taken to Memorial Regional Hospital but his injuries are non-life threatening.
Martinez, a 10-year veteran with ICE in Miami, was listed in stable condition Friday.
Officers from several local, state and federal agencies spent late Thursday and early Friday visiting the wounded officers following the dramatic encounter.
Authorities say the incident began with a carjacking near 75th Street and Northwest 27th Avenue in Miami-Dade around 2:20 p.m., followed by an armed robbery at a barber shop in the 1400 block of S. Palm Avenue in Pembroke Pines.
According to FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Timothy Donovan, shots were fired during the robbery, before the suspect carjacked a second vehicle, a G-35 Infiniti, which he drove onto the Turnpike and crashed into another car.
Officials believe that after the crash, he started walking on the Turnpike looking for another car to help him get away.
Real was off-duty and on her way home when she stopped to help with what she believed was just a car crash, Press said.
After she was shot, Real was rushed to the hospital by Broward Sheriff's Office Deputy Osvaldo Petitfrere, 32.
Press said of Petitfrere, "He most definitely played a huge role in saving her life. His quick thinking and action was beyond that of a five-year veteran."
Press said Friday that every time he and others tried to thank the BSO deputy, he deferred to Real and how she had the wherewithal to keep pressure on her wound. She was holding her neck and talking when she entered the emergency room.
Press talked about her composure, but also mentioned that "she was very agitated last night, obviously, when she started to come out of this incident, but this morning, with her family around her, she seemed at ease."
The chief said that Real told him on Thursday morning that she intends to retire in 19 months. He said that she is an avid outdoor person and wants to become a park ranger after her retirement, perhaps in Georgia.
Martinez, who works in enforcement and removal operations, was also just responding to the crash. His unmarked car was hit with four bullets, two in the front windshield and two in the driver's side window.
Real's police car was struck by one bullet in the driver's side window.
A source close to the investigation told NBC 6 that a man who was on the Turnpike Thursday saw the ordeal unfold on the highway, pulled out his own gun, fired several rounds at Bradley and missed.
The suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Donovan said.
A third officer, BSO Deputy Enid Conley, 23, with the Dania Beach district, was also hospitalized after she broke her leg in a separate car crash while en route to the scene.
The incident brought rush-hour traffic to a stop on the Turnpike, with numerous police vehicles on the scene just south of Exit 49, the Hollywood Boulevard exit. Traffic had been backed up to Griffin Road on the southbound side of the Turnpike, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.
Some drivers and commuters stood outside their cars on the highway, unable to go anywhere, aerial footage showed.
The Turnpike was closed on the southbound side from I-595 and on the northbound side from the Miami-Dade County line, according to the Broward Sheriff's Office.
It finally opened up early Friday, just in time for the morning commute.
The FBI is handling the investigation into the shooting. Anyone with information on the suspect is asked to call the FBI at 305-944-9101.