South Florida Sun Sentinel | By Lisa J. Huriash | April 5, 2022
Veteran bus driver Gwendolyn Whitfield drew big applause and beamed with pride Tuesday as Broward County honored her for her quick actions that helped save lives in a deadly Fort Lauderdale shooting last month.
Whitfield received the county’s medal of valor during a ceremony at the Governmental Center, appearing publicly for the first time since the shooting. On March 17, a gunman opened fire on her bus, killing two people. In a quick-thinking move, Whitfield drove the bus to the Fort Lauderdale police station, stopping at the main entrance, where a police officer heard three shots and ordered the gunman to the ground.
Wiping away tears Tuesday as her husband, son and grandchildren looked on, Whitfield thanked God, as well as a police officer who was at the station “by the grace of God,” and her public support. She called the shooting “senseless.”
“I’m sorry that this even happened,” she said. “I will never understand why it happened.”
Broward Mayor Michael Udine announced April 5 will become Gwendolyn Whitfield Day. Whitfield widened her eyes, seeming stunned. The driver of 10 years is a role model, Udine said. She was full of gratitude, wiping away tears. “I want to thank everyone who has supported me,” she said.
Whitfield forced the bus into oncoming traffic, striking two cars, to reach the Fort Lauderdale police station. During her desperate drive to the police department, as shots rang out aboard the bus, drivers called 911 to complain about a rogue public bus that was putting drivers in danger.
The shooting aboard bus #21005 lasted one minute and three seconds. The shooter’s gun was found on the bus.
Police said the suspect, Jamal Meyers, 34, had pulled a semiautomatic handgun from his right pocket and fired 12 shots at four people seated in the rear of the bus. He reloaded his pistol and fired another nine shots at them. He faces murder and attempted murder charges.