Officer: Ohio captivity scene emotionally powerful
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
CLEVELAND (AP) — One of the first officers at the scene where three women were held captive in a Cleveland house for about a decade says the emotion of the moment was overwhelming.
Officer Anthony Espada, in response to a request from top police brass, wrote down his recollections of what happened May 6, an account that was posted on a Cleveland police department blog.
“Everybody was in the right place. It couldn’t have gotten any better than that, that day,” Espada wrote. “I don’t feel like a hero. I’m just glad I was there, you know, just making sure they were safe. I feel so happy for them.”
The officers went to the home knowing they might find long-missing Amanda Berry. Radio dispatchers told them a 911 caller had identified herself as Berry and said, “I’m free now.”
Driving up to the home, Espada recalled, “We see this girl. She’s like raising her hand, holding a child. I’m looking at my partner, ‘Is it her?’
“He said, ‘I can’t tell.’ We were pulling up closer and as soon as we pull up, my partner was driving, so she came up to the driver’s side. He looked up at me and he’s like, ‘It is her.’”
That moment was overwhelming emotionally, Espada said. Then came another surprise as the officers weighed the possibility that Berry’s captor was inside the house.
“We figured he might possibly be in the house because she kept pointing at the house. My partner asked if anyone was still inside. She said, ‘Yes. Gina DeJesus and another girl.’ And it was like another bombshell with overwhelming force just hit me.”
The officers went into the house and quickly found Michelle Knight.
“She kinda popped out into ... the doorway and paused there for a second. I mean, within moments she came charging at me. She jumped onto me ... She’s like, ‘You saved us! You saved us!’”
Then DeJesus appeared from another bedroom.
“I just look at her,” Espada recalled. “You can immediately tell who it is ... and I asked her, ‘What’s your name?’ She said, ‘My name is Georgina DeJesus.’ Very overwhelming. I mean it took everything to hold myself together.”
Espada radioed the details. “We found them! We found them!”
The officer said he replays the scene in his mind every day.
The house was boarded up last week and a 10-foot security fence was installed around the property. Patrol cars blocked off the street for eight days and reopened it Tuesday.
The three women had been held captive since they disappeared between 2002 and 2004, when they were in their teens or early 20s, authorities said.
Castro, a 52-year-old former school bus driver, has been charged with four counts of kidnapping and three counts of rape.
Castro has been jailed on $8 million bond.
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