A suicidal Vietnam veteran facing deportation straddled himself over a ledge on a South Florida highway ramp with a rope around his neck in an hours-long standoff before surrendering to authorities.
As police negotiators tried to keep 59-year-old Fredy Gutierrez from jumping, the vet told officers he wanted to speak with WTVJ NBC 6 reporter Willard Shepard, an Air Force officer who had been in combat over Iraq.
"As I was driving to the police command center this morning, I was able to communicate with Mr. Gutierrez through the police negotiator who had him on the phone," Shepard said. "It was very clear Gutierrez had reached a point where he couldn’t take it anymore and later said to me he prepared to die today."
Shepard said that he spoke to Gutierrez in military terms as he was on the phone with him, trying to make him see that taking his own life or harming other wouldn't improve his situation and would only make matters worse for his family.
I spoke to him in military terms, telling him that the Air Force jets were on the way to provide the Army close air support – a reference to war scenarios where the Army ground troops can no longer fend off an enemy attack," Shepard said.
He told Gutierrez not to take action until he arrived at the scene.
The guy finally did surrender to police and WTVJ has now saved more people in this rating book, than all over South Florida station combined.