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JROTC Student Earns Gold Medal of Valor for Intervention in Stabbing

Tallahassee Democrat

Kadeyjha Tyler

Kadeyjha Tyler is wired differently than most people.

In a fast-paced era - where most people can't stop to help someone struggling with their groceries - Tyler does more than just help.

Tyler is a bona fide hometown hero. And soon she'll have a Gold Medal of Valor to prove it.

The 17-year-old Godby High School student and Air Force Junior ROTC member put herself in harm's way to help a stranger who was being attacked by a woman with a knife. Tyler said a man and the woman began arguing on a StarMetro bus and eventually took the fight to the streets. When the woman brandished a knife, Tyler stepped in.

Col. Chris Wheeler, national director of Air Force Junior ROTC, said the Gold Medal of Valor is only awarded to about a dozen students out of 120,000 cadets across the nation. He said the medal is awarded to the absolute best of the best in Air Force Junior ROTC.

"We've given a few this year," he said. "One young man pulled an injured victim out of a burning car crash. Another pulled an individual out of a car ditch. One of the cadets intervened in a shooting."

The medal is only awarded to those who put their life on the line to help others. Tyler said putting an end to the fight outside the bus was what any good person should have done. She'll formally receive her medal during a ceremony in May.

The fight happened around 3:50 p.m. on Jan. 28. The StarMetro bus stopped in front of Popeyes at the intersection of Macomb Street and Tennessee Street. Tyler said the man who was being attacked repeatedly tried to get the woman to leave him alone, to no avail.

"Picture yourself in that situation," she said. "If your life was in danger, if you were getting stabbed multiple times, you'd want someone to help you.

"Nobody was helping him," she said.

Tyler added the woman "took a swing" at her with a knife when she tried to help.

"I was thinking, 'She's not going to cut him,'" she said. "'She's not going to stab him. She's just going to try and scare him.' I was shocked. Even though it was life-threatening I knew I had to help."

A surveillance video from the incident shows Tyler and one of her friends running to the aid of the man and leading the woman away. The video shows both the man and the woman walking away from the incident.

"We do about 150,000 trips a year and we've got between 4.9 million and 5 million customers a year," said Ron Garrison, the executive director of StarMetro. "Incidents like that fight are really an outlier."

Garrison added the drivers of StarMetro buses are specially trained to defuse dangerous situations. Buses are also equipped with technology that can covertly contact authorities in an emergency.

Tyler said she isn't sure if the police ever picked up the incident.

Thursday afternoon, Tallahassee Police Department spokesman officer Dave Northway said he would try to find more information on the fight.

Lt. Col. Ken David, a teacher with Godby High's School's Junior ROTC program, said he's proud of Tyler - although he might have held her back had he been there. He said Tyler demonstrated perfectly the leadership taught in ROTC every day.

"We're just extremely proud here at Godby," he said. "This is leadership in action. To see someone doing something like this really is heartwarming. Tyler is really someone who can do well in life."

When she's not saving strangers from assailants with sharp objects, Tyler enjoys music. She said she enjoys hip-hop, R&B and occasionally country. Eventually she would like to join the Air Force or attend Florida State University.