Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti on Thursday recognized several people involved in the May shooting on Florida's Turnpike during an awards ceremony. Key Biscayne Police Officer Nelia Real, BSO Deputy Osvaldo Petitfrere and Agent Gabriel Martinez reflected on that night.
Lamberti, who is concluding his tenure as the head of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, awarded the Medal of Honor to Key Biscayne Police Officer Nelia Real and BSO Deputy Osvaldo Petitfrere.
Real was shot in the neck by David Edwin Bradley, 23, on the Turnpike, and Petitfrere saved her life, according to authorities.
Bradley was seen walking on the road, before he turned the gun on himself, authorities said. Lamberti remembers that night of May 10 well.
“People don’t realize that everybody who responded to that incident was off-duty, and it shows you, you are never off-duty if you’re a law enforcement officer,” Lamberti said.
Real has said she thought she was going to die after she was shot. She pulled over because she thought there was a fatal crash on the highway.
“It’s just a regular day at the job. I did what I had to do and I would do it all over again,” Real said. “It was no big deal for me to stop and render aid.”
“We’re just doing our job every day, going to work. It’s expected from us, and that’s pretty much how we perform,” Petitfrere said.
Emotionally the Turnpike shooting was tough for all officers, including Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agent Gabriel Martinez, who was shot in the shoulder.
“One of the things (is) that you get flashbacks, you continue to recreate scenes, maybe you could have done something different,” Martinez said.
BSO Det. Rodrigo Mello received the Medal of Honor for his actions in a separate incident, while numerous other law enforcement officers and citizens were also honored in the BSO awards ceremony at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale.
“And I always say this is the favorite part of the job for me,” Lamberti said. “It’s to recognize the men and women and what they do every day, because you know what? This doesn’t make headlines, it’s the negative, but 99.9 percent of what we do is all positive and you have to recognize it and that’s what today was all about.”
He also took the opportunity to say goodbye after 35 years of service at the BSO. Lamberti, who has been sheriff for five years, was defeated in the November election by Democrat Scott Israel, who takes over Jan. 8.
“It’s bittersweet, but I know that’s the process. I don’t minimize it,” Lamberti said. “I thank the citizens for allowing me the privilege of sitting in the sheriff’s chair. It’s not the Al Lamberti sheriff’s office, it’s the Broward Sheriff’s Office. It belongs to the public.”