Chris Perkins, Eileen Kelley and Angie DiMichele
South Florida Sun Sentinel
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A Broward County Transit driver has been hailed as a hero for her quick actions after a man started shooting on her bus Thursday afternoon, killing two people and injuring two others.
The suspect in the shooting just outside the Fort Lauderdale police station was identified on Friday as Jamal Meyers, according to Fort Lauderdale police.
Meyers, 34, faces two premeditated murder charges and two attempted murder charges, according to the court documents. He also faces charges of possession of a weapon or ammunition by a convicted felon and probation violation. He’s scheduled to face a judge Friday morning.
Meyers is considered a serious habitual felon and has had numerous encounters with the legal system since 2003, according to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
His first encounter with the legal system was when he was 15 years old and charged with disrupting a school function. He also has strong-armed robbery and grand theft arrests in his teen years.
Meyers was last sent to prison on Aug. 9, 2021, after being found guilty of 10 crimes between 2017 and 2019. Half of those convictions were for burglary. Each conviction carried a three-year sentence, though he was able to serve them concurrently. In the end, he served only five months in state prison because he was given credit for spending over 800 days in jail while his criminal cases played out on court.
On Jan. 8, he was released and placed on probation until 2025.
Fort Lauderdale police said the motive for Thursday’s bus shooting still isn’t known.
One person died on the bus after being shot and the other died at Broward Health Medical Center, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stephen Gollan said. Another person is in critical condition at Broward Health Medical Center; the fourth shooting victim is expected to survive.
Three other people were injured and treated at the scene for minor injuries when the bus crashed into cars as it crossed the road in the driver’s desperate attempt to get to the police station.
The shooting was reported at 2:33 p.m. in the 1300 block of West Broward Boulevard. Once the shooting began, the driver forced her a way into a turn lane and pulled into the Fort Lauderdale police station parking lot.
Police raced out of the building, and the gunman got off the bus and surrendered.
As the bus driver was heading west in the 1100 block of West Broward Boulevard, she heard multiple gunshots from inside the bus, Acting Police Chief Luis Alvarez said. After the shots were fired, she pulled in front of the police station, where an officer who was on an unrelated call also heard shots coming from inside the bus.
The suspect stepped off the bus and surrendered, Alvarez said. Officials recovered a gun at the scene.
A preliminary investigation found that the bus was “pinned in and could not cross Broward Boulevard,” Alvarez said, as the driver attempted to turn into the police station.
The bus driver then went around the car that was blocking the way into the police station, “forced its way through that turn lane, barreled through a vehicle and went to the front of the station,” Alvarez said.
“The bus driver in this particular case, her quick actions I am sure saved lives,” Alvarez said. “So kudos to her. She deserves to be applauded for her actions.”
“That is a difficult thing to do. Not many people would have behaved the way this bus driver behaved and to get to the front of the police station … it pretty much saved lives,” he said.
The suspect was not injured, and no officers fired their weapons, Alvarez said.
The bus’s number, 21005, identified it as the 22 Route. The route travels along Broward Boulevard and extends from Broward Central Terminal in downtown Fort Lauderdale to Sawgrass Mills Mall in Sunrise.
Two vehicles were struck as the bus was turning into the police station, officials said. Three people in the cars were treated at the scene for minor injuries, Gollan said, and were not hospitalized.
Natasha McGee, 44, who works as a front desk clerk at a dentist office near the scene, said she watched the county bus hit two cars, a taxi and a white Mercedes Benz SUV.
Once the bus stopped at the police station, McGee said she saw officers surround the bus.
“The people came off the bus with their hands up, and the police just started running everywhere, coming from everywhere,” McGee said.
Everton Furtado, 43, who has lived two blocks away for about a year and a half, said he used to ride the bus from Boca Raton to Pompano Beach often and never felt unsafe.
“We’re just concerned about people because we live right up the street,” Furtado said. “Honestly, it’s very concerning. We live a couple blocks from the police station and to be facing these types of situations is very concerning … It’s frightening. I don’t know what to say. I’m in shock.”
(Staff writer Booke Baitinger contributed to this report.)
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