(CNN) — Charles Ramsey was eating some dinner Monday night at his home in Cleveland’s West Side when he heard screaming. Soon, he was knocking down a neighbor’s door, freeing three women and a girl who police say were held hostage for years.
Within hours the unassuming man, who works as a dishwasher at a local restaurant, was a national hero, a viral video star, and the top topic on Twitter.
“I’m eating my McDonald’s, I come outside, and I see this girl going nuts, trying to get out of the house,” he told CNN affiliate WEWS in an interview watched around the world.
“I got on the porch and she said, ‘Help me get out. I’ve been here a long time.” I figured it was a domestic violence dispute. So I open the door. And we can’t get in that way ’cause of how the door is, it’s so much that a body can’t fit through; only your hand.”
He and a man named Angel Cordero broke down the door, WEWS reported.
“We kicked the bottom. And she comes out with a little girl and she says ‘Call 911. My name is Amanda Berry.”
He immediately called 911 — and only then realized that Berry was the woman who had been missing for years. “I thought this girl was dead,” he said.
“She’s like, ‘This (expletive) kidnapped me and my daughter,'” he told the 911 operator.
After police arrived, Berry explained there were other women inside. When police came out with them, Ramsey said, “it was astonishing.”
Berry was last seen after finishing her shift at a Burger King in Cleveland in 2003 on the eve of her 17th birthday. The other two women are Georgina “Gina” DeJesus, who disappeared at age 14 in 2004, and Michelle Knight, who vanished 2002 at age 19, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.
While Ramsey’s quick action in the largely run-down neighborhood made him a hero, his colorful descriptions helped make him dream fodder for the Twitterverse.
Explaining that he had no idea Ariel Castro, his neighbor, may have had other people inside his home, Ramsey said, “I’ve been here a year. You see where I’m coming from? I barbecue with this dude. We eat ribs and whatnot and listen to salsa music…
“He just comes out to his backyard, plays with the dogs, tinkers with his cars and motorcycles, goes back in the house. So he’s somebody you look, then look away. He’s not doing anything, but the average stuff. You see what I’m saying? There’s nothing exciting about him. Well, until today.”
Castro “got some big testicles to pull this off, bro,” Ramsey said. “Because we see this dude every day. I mean every day.”
He added, “I knew something was wrong when a little, pretty white girl ran into a black man’s arms. Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway.”
In one of the top tweets about Ramsey, comedian Patton Oswalt wrote, “Dear Charles Ramsey: I am not a little pretty white girl, but I totally want to run into your black arms. #hero.”
Hodge’s restaurant in Cleveland posted a message on Facebook saying, “we’re extremely proud of our employee Charles Ramsey for not turning his back on the young women. He’s a true Cleveland hero. Our thoughts and prayers will continue to be with the women, their families and their friends.”
Restaurant owner Chris Hodgson told Cleveland.com that the video shows just what kind of person Ramsey is. “What you see in the video is what you get with Chuck,” Hodgson said. “He’s calm in the face of crazy and hectic things going on. He always steps up to do anything you ask… He never says no. He always jumps on it.”
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