Hostage Speaks Out After Police Leave Home Nearly Destroyed
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NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – A woman held hostage says she feels like she’s been victimized twice; first by the murder suspect who kept her captive and then by police who came to help. That woman spoke exclusively with CBS 11 I-Team Reporter Mireya Villarreal.
Chong Ward was held captive in a home that belongs to her brother in-law who works overseas. Once she was released she gave the police the go ahead to take the suspect out of the house, with the assurance that they’d help with any damage that was done.
But months later the house is still unlivable.
Scanner Chatter: “Suspect inside has confirmed he has a .32 pistol.”
On December 31 our cameras captured scanner chatter between police officers. The suspect they were talking about on that day was John St. Angelo, a man wanted for killing his estranged wife, Suzanne Parsons, just one day earlier.
Scanner Chatter: “SWAT 20 let’s get full volley. Y’all stay completely covered. We need more gas in the house.”
St. Angelo barricaded himself inside a home off Permian Lane on Fort Worth’s far north side. For nearly six hours he was involved in a standoff with police, firing at them multiple times. Police eventually drew him out with negotiators and tear gas.
“The suspect is out safe. Officers are safe,” Corporal Tracy Knight, Fort Worth Police Department’s Spokesperson, told us that day. “And hopefully we’ll have a good conclusion and justice for the homicide.”
But nearly three months later the house on Permian Lane looks just like how police left it. Doors and windows are still missing. Walls are riddled with holes left by tear gas canisters.
Chong Ward was living in her brother in-law’s home when she says John St. Angelo, an acquaintance, broke in. Ward says St. Angelo wouldn’t let her leave or call for help. This all went down just hours after Suzanne Parsons’ murder.
“He said he killed her, you know,” Ward remembered.
“He told you he killed her,” Investigative Reporter Mireya Villarreal followed up.
“Yea, he did,” she answered.
After more than ten hours Ward says she convinced St. Angelo to let her go. That’s when she called police. When they arrived they asked her to sign a consent form that would allow them inside her home.
“I said simply, in simple words, if you damage it you going to fix house just like it is. He said yes,” Ward told us. “He even recorded it. You know, so, that’s the only way I’m going to sign this one. So, I sign it.”
Once the form was signed police pumped more than 25 tear gas canisters inside the home. Almost every room, including the garage, was hit with a can.
SWAT expert and former police officer Tom Mijares says using the gas in so many locations could have been counterproductive.
“It’s called the Venturi Effect,” Mijares explained. “When you start to make openings in the building, no matter what the building is, no matter what the opening is, whether it’s a door or another window… What’s happening now is the gas is starting to escape because it’s getting a cross ventilation.”
Scanner Chatter: “Trot 10 to CP – We’re out of gas in the back.”
Once it was all over Ward and her brother in-law, Russell Lamarre, filed a claim with the city, citing clean up and renovation costs of more than $120,000.
“I’m not here for like, who’s right who’s wrong. You know, but what I’m saying is, whatever you did you know, the promise to somebody, you keep promise,” Ward added.
The city recently sent a letter to homeowner Russell Lamarre, denying the claim. They say because they’re a government agency they’re immune from responsibility.
Fort Worth Police and city leaders declined to talk with us on camera. But they clarified by saying they are protected by sovereign immunity. However, we found out if police officers broke policies or their actions weren’t reasonable, there could be exceptions to that immunity.
Lamarre says the actions of officers on that day were excessive and irresponsible and he’s going to continue to fight.
John St. Angelo was indicted just last week on five criminal charges including the murder of Suzanne Parsons and kidnapping of Chong Ward.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
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