Officers involved in Turnpike shootings honored
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Three police officers who went above and beyond the call of duty earlier this year were awarded the Medal of Honor by the Broward Sheriff's Office at a ceremony Thursday afternoon.
Sheriff Al Lamberti bestowed the Medal of Honor to Officer Nelia Real, Deputy Osvaldo Pettitfrere and ICE Agent Gabriel Martinez for their courageous actions after a gunman shot two of them on the Florida Turnpike last May. "It was just another day at the job," said Real, a Key Biscayne officer. "I did what I had to do, and I would do it all over again."
Real was on her way home on the Turnpike when she stopped to help at an accident scene. Moments later, she was shot in the jaw by a lone assailant. "Besides not being able to talk a lot, having pain in my neck and the paralysis in my face, I'm [doing] pretty good," Real said.
Witnessing the ordeal unfold on his way to work, Deputy Pettitfrere rushed Real to the hospital in the back of his cruiser. "We were just doing our job [like we do] every day going to work," said Pettitfrere.
ICE Agent Martinez was shot in the arm by the gunman when he stopped at the scene. "It's very difficult," said Martinez when asked about the shooting's aftermath. "You get flashbacks, you continue to recreate the scene in your head [to see] what you would do different."
As Sheriff Al Lamberti pointed out, all three award recipients were off duty when they stopped at the scene. "It goes to show you, you are never off duty if you're a law enforcement officer," Lamberti said.
This will be Sheriff Lamberti's last public event on the job. "It's bittersweet. I don't minimize it. I thank the citizens for allowing me the privilege [to serve]," Lamberti said.
Real, who had planned to retire in 2013, is considering moving that date forward. "I'm going bonkers, being in the house [and] not doing anything. I miss the guys [on the force]. I miss the community; they've been awesome. I miss my job," she said.
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