By CHRIS MATTHEWS
Two children were taken hostage this morning at 2015 Creston Ave., at the corner of Bush Street. Franklin Espinal, 10, and his half-brother Matthew, 11 months, were held against their will in their first-story apartment by Matthew’s father, Camilo Mejias. As of 3:30 p.m., Mejias remains in the building with Matthew. Franklin was released earlier this afternoon.
Mejias forced his way into his estranged spouse, Rosemary Espinal’s apartment sometime before 7:30 a.m. this morning, family members at the scene said. After entering, Mejias expelled Espinal, the boys’ mother, from the apartment. Rumors swirled that Mejias did not have a gun but might be using a household object as a weapon.
"He’s a crazy guy," said Milvea Espinal, Rosemary’s stepsister, adding that Mejias has a history of substance abuse and abusive behavior. Police officers at the scene confirmed this report.
Rosemary Espinal separated from Mejias four months ago and obtained a restraining order against him. Mejias was arrested in his New Jersey home a month ago for attempting to visit her at 2015 Creston Ave. He returned to the address this morning and a crisis ensued.
While Mejias has had his share of problems, this morning’s events came as a shock. “We are surprised. We never expected him to do something like this,” said Milvea Espinal. With tears streaming down his face, Leonardo Espinal, Rosemary's father, said that Mejias was drunk when he showed up this morning.
As the dramatic scene unfolded, a slew of reporters and scores of curious onlookers gathered to watch. A police helicopter hovering overhead, Television crews filmed as Creston Avenue filled with countless police cruisers and Technical Assistance Response Units (TARU). A foreboding SWAT vehicle was parked directly in front of 2015 and officers in full body armor (pictured above) could be seen surveying Espinal’s apartment.
Espinal sat in a police cruiser as negotiators attempted to reason with Mejias. At 1:15 p.m. Mejias released Franklin who was quickly escorted to his worried mother. Though Mejias is still holding Matthew hostage, Espinal remains hopeful. “She is calm. She knows the police know how to handle this,” said her stepsister.
Photos by JAMES FERGUSSON (top, officers outside 1520 Creston Ave., directly above, Franklin Espinal, 10, being comforted by his mother, following his release).
Friday, March 28, 2008
By CHRIS MATTHEWS