(WSVN) - It was a wild scene that played out on the streets of South Florida: a shootout with police, a stolen squad car and an innocent woman on her way to work, caught “Driving Into Danger.” Here’s the Nightteam’s Brian Entin.
Three and a half years ago, Bernadette Gonzales was driving to work with her convertible top down, enjoying a cool, sunny April morning.
Bernadette Gonzales, shot in the arm: “That’s when I heard a huge ‘pow’ in my left eardrum, and then I smelled gunpowder. And immediately my hand, my arm started burning. My hand was on the steering wheel.”
All Bernadette remembers is seeing a police cruiser and then hearing the gunshot.
She was shot in the arm. Her car still has bullet holes in it.
Bernadette Gonzales: “I just kept saying, ‘I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die.’ I know I kept saying that over and over and over. ‘I don’t want to die.'”
The man who stole the police car was cab driver Frantzy Armand.
He was angry because another cabbie hit his car and took off.
Armand, armed with a rifle, drove to a cab company in Little Haiti to find that driver.
A Miami Police officer confronted him. Armand shot at the officer, stole his police cruiser and headed to North Miami.
That’s when investigators say he shot at Bernadette’s convertible, hitting her.
The crime spree finally ended when an officer shot Armand.
Armand agreed to a guilty plea a few weeks ago. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Bernadette Gonzales: “When I went to the podium to talk to the judge, I didn’t look at him because I just couldn’t look at him. I couldn’t. But he didn’t apologize to any of us.”
Bernadette says she still can’t use her left hand and suffers from depression and PTSD.
She hasn’t been able to return to work.
Bernadette Gonzales: “Since I managed a bar, we threw birthday parties. Somebody would pop a balloon, I would scream and I’m down on the floor because, of course, a balloon popping sounds like a gunshot.”
Bernadette now has the bullet that was lodged in her arm.
Police gave it to her after the sentencing. It’s a reminder, she says, of how close she came to death and her determination to get past it all.
Bernadette Gonzales: “I do feel stronger. This past summer, I feel stronger a little bit. And I think that’s because I have asked God to show me, what does He want me to do?”
Bernadette moved to Virginia but drove back down here for the court hearing. She’s now hoping to start a counseling group for random victims of violent crime.
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