A Broward Sheriff's Office deputy and three other BSO employees were honored Thursday for saving the life of a Key Biscayne police officer after she was shot on Florida's Turnpike in May.
The brave officers were recognized for their heroic reaction to a fatal shootout on Florida's Turnpike when a suspect tried killing several officers before pulling the trigger on himself.
"Everybody who responded to that incident was off-duty, and it shows you -- you are never off-duty when you're a law enforcement officer," said Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, who later gave a heartfelt goodbye as he prepares to leave his post.
Nelia Real was off-duty and heading home on Florida's Turnpike when she saw a car crash near the Hollywood Boulevard exit. When she stopped to help, David Bradley charged toward her with a gun and opened fire, said police. Bradley had led police on a pursuit that began as a carjacking in Miami-Dade County. Real wasn’t even out of her cruiser when one of Bradley’s bullets pierced her window and hit her in the jaw.
"I have a lot of bullet fragments inside my body that cannot come out, and they just played it by ear," said Real. "I have scarring in my tongue, the back of my throat, my vocal chords."
That’s when BSO deputy Osvaldo Petitfrere jumped into action. He applied pressure to Real's neck while returning fire. Next, Petitfrere rushed a bleeding Real to the hospital, saving her life.
"We're just doing our jobs, every day," said Petitfrere. "Going to work, you know."
Federal ICE agent Gabriel Martinez, who was also off-duty and on his way home, stopped when he saw the wreck and was shot in the arm as he tried to confront Bradley.
"You get flashbacks. You continue to recreate scenes, maybe you could've done something different," said Martinez.
Martinez, Petitfrere and Real each received the Medal of Honor for their part in taking on such a dangerous suspect and prevailing in a gun battle.
"To me, it's a great honor that I'm being recognized, but to me, it's just a regular day at the job. I do what I had to do and I'd do it all over again. It was no big deal for me," said Real.