He says police roughed him up, but he was only trying to defend her.
The 21-year-old California Bay Area man who was arrested and then released in the homecoming gang rape case said Wednesday he was only trying to help the 16-year-old victim during the attack and tried to stop her attackers, KTVU.com reports.
Salvador Rodriguez, of Richmond, Calif., told KTVU he was fearful of coming forward, but wanted to reveal the details of what happened in the darkened alley near Richmond High so the community would no longer look upon him as a “monster.”
“All I want is my name back,” Rodriguez told KTVU. “I want my life back. I want to be looked at as someone who tries to help, if someone needs help – that I would give them the T-shirt off my back to help them out. And not, ‘Oh yeah, he’s a monster. He’ll strike again.'”
Rodriguez told KTVU that he feared repercussions for speaking out. While he would not identify the six suspects charged in the case as gang members, he said the men associate with known gang members.
“I think about it (being the victim of retaliation) every single day,” he said. “I’m not scared of the case, I’m scared of the people.”
Detectives believe the attack began around 9:30 p.m. on Oct. 24 after a classmate, identified by Rodriguez as 15-year-old Cody Smith, beckoned the victim to a secluded area of the campus where she began drinking with them.
“I was there, sitting down (on a bench in the alleyway) minding my own business and I see this girl. She just walks around from nowhere; she didn’t hop no fence or nothing. She just went straight through the opening.”
“Before she even sat down she drank half a bottle and I went, ‘Whoa.’ I never saw anyone do that before. She got up to throw up and everyone started going crazy. I tried to stop it, I told them, ‘Hey, man that’s not cool.’”
Rodriguez said the group around the young girl saw someone who was drunk and vulnerable. According to the charges in the case, that group included Smith, Ari Morales, 16; Marcelles Peter, 17; and Richmond residents Manuel Ortega, 19; Jose Montano, 18; and Elvis Torrentes, 21.
“They saw someone who was vulnerable and they felt like attacking,” he said. “Let’s go for it. They didn’t say anything like that but that was their instinct. You could feel the vibe in the air. They were just a bunch of animals.”
The attackers then began removing the girl’s clothes, Rodriguez said.
“They started tearing them [the girl’s clothes] off and I tried to get them to stop,” he said. “They tried to take pictures, but I slapped the phone out of their hands. …They were kicking her and beating her… I just remember hearing her screaming. … They were saying, ‘Shut up bitch, stop screaming.”
Rodriguez said he then confronted the attackers and was pushed away and threatened.
“When I went up and knew I was a part of it, that’s when they pushed me and say, 'Hey, if you are not down, you need to go.' I got scared.”
Rodriguez said he fled in fear but returned a short time later to find the naked girl in the bushes.
“I seen in the bushes these two feet sticking out and I looked closer, and I see it is a girl and she had clothes on but they were all ripped up,” he said. “She was covered with leaves and sticks and dirt. So I tried to grab her but she screamed. I told her I wasn’t going to hurt her.”
“I gave her my T-shirt and she walked with me to the bench and I sit her on the bench. She was trying to talk but I couldn’t hear what she was saying... I looked up to see Manuel (Ortega) and two other guys coming back and I thought they were going to kill her… Instead of going for help and I thought I should try there and help her.”
Rodriguez said he and Ortega got into a fight.
“I got into a fight with Manuel Ortega,” he said. “He kept telling me, ‘That’s your problem; you are always trying to help everybody.’ I threw him on the ground, but then I saw the cops and my first instinct was to get out of there.”
Rodriguez said he decided to take on his friends because he has two young sisters.
“I have two 15-year-old sisters. I was looking at her thinking that could be my sister,” he said. “I kept saying over and over, 'that’s someone sister, that’s someone’s daughter, that’s someone’s granddaughter. Leave her alone.'”
Rodriguez, who turned himself into police, said he had no idea why he was arrested. He also claimed Richmond Police roughed him up.
“I have no clue,” he said of his arrest. “They kicked me. They beat me up. I was just letting them know what happened. I was there but I didn’t have anything to do with it.”
He also said he understood the rough police tactics.
“I can understand,” he said. “That was a little girl that his happened to. I would have beaten the guys up, too.”
Rodriguez was released after spending 72 hours in custody because of a lack of evidence.
Meanwhile, Smith, Morales, Peter, Ortega, Montano and Torrentes have all been charged with several counts. If convicted, they could spend the rest of their lives in jail