Nightly News | November 12, 2011
LESTER HOLT, anchor: Now to the daring mission to rescue a major league baseball star kidnapped in South America . Tonight Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos is back safe with his family after a late night gun battle in the mountains of Venezuela . NBC 's Charles Hadlock now with this report.
CHARLES HADLOCK reporting: Wilson Ramos was greeted with hugs and tears after 50 harrowing hours of captivity. Military commandos rescued Ramos Friday night in a dramatic gun battle with his alleged kidnappers. All six were captured alive.
Sports Announcer: A three-run walk-off homer for Wilson Ramos !
HADLOCK: The 24-year-old catcher had just finished his rookie season with the Washington Nationals and was home for the winter baseball season in his native Venezuela , a country crazy about baseball, but terrorized by violent crime. Ramos was grabbed at gunpoint from the front porch of his parents' home. The getaway vehicle was later found burned in a neighboring town. The kidnappers never made any public demands. Ramos says they never physically harmed him, but psychologically he says they did. Ramos says he's still nervous from his ordeal and US security experts say he and others in Venezuela have good reason to be.
Mr. ERICK LANGER (Georgetown University): It is becoming rapidly an unlivable country and can you imagine living under that fear all the time of crime? I mean, this is the way everybody lives.
HADLOCK: Experts say Ramos is just one of hundreds of people kidnapped in Venezuela this year. His fame and wealth from playing baseball in the US made him a target.
Mr. FRED BURTON (Stratfor Global Intelligence): These are in essence high value targets. These are individuals with a lot of money, they are easily accessible.
HADLOCK: Ramos told a reporter from mlb.com that his dramatic rescue lasted about 15 minutes. "There was a gunfight. I was under the bed. I was so afraid," he says. " All of a sudden I hear the police calling my name, 'Wilson, Wilson.' And I answered, 'I'm here, I'm here.' They got me off the floor and got me back home. I am so grateful." So too are his fans who celebrated in his hometown. The country's information minister says with the rescue of Wilson Ramos , police hit a tremendous home run . Charles Hadlock, NBC News, Miami.