Cleveland, OH – “You saved us! You saved us!”
Those were the first words patrol Officer Anthony Espada said Michelle Knight spoke after she, Gina DeJesus and Amanda Berry were freed from a home in Cleveland last week after being kidnapped for a decade.
They were finally freed when Berry escaped and called 911 from a neighbor's house.
Espada was one of the first officers to respond that day to the home of Ariel Castro, the accused kidnapper and rapist. The Cleveland police department did its own interview with Espada about responding to the call and posted it on the Cleveland Public Safety blog.
In his response, Espada described what it was like to discover the three girls, along with Berry’s 6-year-old daughter:
“We pull up, we see a crowd, like on the porch. 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.' Just the emotion from that point that he confirmed it was Amanda was overwhelming.”
Espada went on to say as he approached the porch, the home itself was at first “quiet, like peaceful.”
Then he heard scuffling.
“I’m looking that way just waiting to see what’s going to happen and it was Michelle. She kinda popped out into to 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!' And I’m holding onto her so tight. And then within a few seconds I see another girl come out of the bedroom. I just look at her. I … 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. You know, I have Michelle in my arms…. And then you got Gina coming out. It was like one bombshell after another.”
Espada said “everybody was in the right place” at the time, and that he doesn’t feel like a hero.
“I feel so happy for them. It is just unbelievable. It goes through my mind every day. I couldn’t imagine the past 10-12 years what they went through. It just keeps playing back, in my mind, you know. I can still picture us just pulling up, seeing Amanda – couldn’t believe it. Her telling us Gina might be in the house – going in the house. I just keep replaying it and replaying it every day since it happened. I’m just glad just to be a part of it, all of the officers there on the scene that day. Everything just went so awesome, and well.”
For more on the story from Fox 8 in Cleveland click here.