Sat 12 Nov, 2011 11:27 am
Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos says police, kidnappers exchanged heavy gunfire in dramatic rescue
By Juan Forero and Adam Kilgore - Washington Post
November 12, 2011
VALENCIA, Venezuela — Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos said the final moments of his captivity were hair-raising, as police commandos and his kidnappers exchanged heavy gunfire.
“It was impressive, something I had only seen in the movies,” said Ramos, 24, his voice cracking as he spoke shortly after 3 a.m. Saturday in front of his family’s home. “If it had not been for them, who knows what would have happened to me. I had just asked for God, at every moment, to get me back to my home.”
Wilson Ramos’s Venezuelan winter league team reports that he has been kidnapped in his hometown of Valencia, Venezuela.
Ramos returned safely to his home and his overjoyed family early Saturday after 50 hours in captivity in the remote mountainous area of central Venezuela.
“It was something super hard,” he said of his dramatic rescue. “There were many shots fired. I couldn’t do anything but get under the bed, to pray, to cry, and then I felt a great relief when I heard the police yell my name. That’s when I responded because I couldn’t even speak.”
Dressed in a blue t-shirt, his siblings and cousins hugging him as he spoke, Ramos said that after his abduction he was taken on a lonely mountain road, a trip that took three or four hours, and then kept in a dingy shack. He had been hooded but not tied up.
He said he never knew who had kidnapped him, but Ramos said they had Colombian accents. Various irregular armed groups from Colombia, including that country’s largest rebel group, operate inside of Venezuela, kidnapping for ransom.
“It was so painful,” he said of his ordeal. “To be locked inside there with these guys I did not know. Understand? I did not even want to eat, wondering what was in the food.”
Ramos was found in the town of Montalban in the state of Carabobo in central Venezuela, said Andres Izarra, the government’s communications minister. The area is roughly 40 miles northwest of Ramos’s family’s home in Valencia, where four men abducted him Wednesday evening, dragging him into a vehicle at gunpoint.
In a statement released by the team Saturday morning, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said he had spoke with Ramos by phone and that he was unharmed.
“I join Wilson in thanking the many law enforcement officials in Venezuela and investigators with Major League Baseball who worked tirelessly to ensure a positive ending to what has been a frightening ordeal,” Rizzo said. “The entire Washington Nationals family is thankful that Wilson Ramos is coming home.”
Asked if he had a message for Washington, Ramos said, “I sent a very special hello to Ivan Rodriguez. Look, he loves me a lot and I admire him a lot and I hope to speak to him soon.”
This past season, in his first full major league season, Ramos performed like one of the best rookies in baseball, supplanting future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, his childhood idol, as the Nationals’ regular catcher.
He hit .267 with 15 home runs and a .438 slugging percentage, numbers that made him one of the Nationals’ most valuable and most promising players.
Kilgore reported from Washington.